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The Future of British Circuses?

Conor Coyle
15 April 2014
The Future of British Circuses?

(You can read the article here)

What was striking was the positivity, and the strides that modern circus performance has been making. Given the recent inclusion of circuses in tax relief for theatre, this is a great step forward. Ancient circuses were focused on chariot and horse races or exhibitions.

Modern circuses, can be traced back to 1768, when Philip Astley brought together horse riding tricks, acrobats and clowns together for single performances in England. Circuses eventually developed to include full scale re-enactments of famous battles and the like.

By the late part of the 19th century to the 1970's the "traditional" form of circuses that most people think of became popular (big tops, daring physical feats and wild beasts).

After WWII interest in circuses as a major form of entertainment declined. That has all changed in recent history thanks to some amazing work by modern circus companies such as Square Peg, No FitState Circus, Skewed Circus and others.

Modern circuses are breathtaking, extremely entertaining, beautiful and physically demanding art made real. I agree with Tim Lenkiewicz that circuses definitely need adequate training and support for artists as they train, as well as the opportunity to pursue a formalised degree similar to dance or theatre.

And while audience development maybe slow, it is certainly building and with the broadening of tax reliefs to circuses this will help.

My favourite suggestion has to be a formalised national circus space. It feels like a perfect new beginning for an industry that started in England in the first place.

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