Project CIRCUS = ART

The CIRCUS = ART project aims to enhance the regional contemporary circus scene and brings together three major organizations active in the field of contemporary circus in Serbia: Cirkusfera from Belgrade, Kreativni pogon, and Ludifico from Novi Sad. For over a decade, these organizations have been developing contemporary circus through educational activities for children, youth, and adults, as well as organizing the Cirkobalkana festival, producing performances, hosting discussions on circus related topics…
The CIRCUS = ART project is conceived in collaboration with the regional performing arts program Teatroskop and is supported by the French Embassy and the French Institute in Serbia. It represents a one-year funding initiative for circus organizations in Serbia, serving as a model of good practice by ensuring the sustainability of these independent cultural organisations, while directly contributing to regional development and recognition of the contemporary circus as an art. Furthermore, stable funding will allow Cirkusfera, Kreativni pogon, and Ludifico will to continue their activities throughout 2024.

Activities within the CIRCUS = ART project:

Support for Regional Artistic Creation and Development of Educational Tools

The training of professionals working in the field of contemporary circus is one of the key segments of the project and consists of several activities:
a) Professionalization of artists through creation labs and dramaturgy workshop:

Research and development labs represent dedicated time and space for creative collaboration among circus artists. Within the project CIRCUS = ART, laboratories will be conducted under the mentorship of French and local artists and experienced trainers. Through the process of artistic exploration, local artists will enhance their performance skills and develop their own artistic projects. The laboratory will consist of two intensive, multi-day phases, and the results of this creative process will be presented to the audience in Belgrade and Novi Sad. This will represent a significant encouragement for young circus artists to further their creative work. Participants of the laboratories will be selected at the regional level through an open call. The program will unfold in several phases:

Lab I: May 7th to 14th in Novi Sad.
Lab II: August 23rd to 30th in Belgrade.
Lab III: Final creation with public performance, during the first half of October in Belgrade
and Novi Sad.

Circus dramaturgy can be understood as the process of symbolic and narrative shaping of contemporary circus performances and represents one of their key elements. The dramaturgy workshop within the project CIRCUS = ART aims to stimulate primarily the creative, rather than technical skills of circus artists. Therefore, it is intended for contemporary circus creators from Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina who already have some experience in creating circus performances. The workshop will be organized from December 16th to 20th as the final activity of the project, while participants will be selected through an open call.

b) Circus Pedagogy Workshop

The pedagogy workshop is aimed at enhancing the capacities of circus trainers in the region, as well as other professionals interested in contemporary circus, who are working in the field of children, youth, and adult education. Circus pedagogy is inherently focused on the development of circus skills through a lens of values such as critical thinking, personal autonomy, tolerance, as well as responsibility, empathy, and self-confidence. Participants will learn techniques through which this contemporary art can promote cohesion and inclusivity in diverse communities, regardless of the individual potentials of its members. By applying the acquired skills in their immediate environment, circus trainers and other workshop participants will contribute to promoting the values of this art in a broader educational context. The workshop will be conducted in November 2024, and participants will be selected through an open call.

Contemporary circus performances and audience development

A key element of the development of contemporary circus in the region is the presentation of various professional performances by regional and international artists, as well as adopting a strategic approach to audience development.
a) Aiming to provide the audience with an insight into current international trends in the field of contemporary circus, this project will include performances of French and regional productions in Novi Sad, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Podgorica, and other cities in the region.
b) The approach to audience development within the project is twofold: on one hand, the contemporary circus performances will be presented outside of cities where this artistic form already gained its audience, which inherently contributes to the decentralization of this cultural sphere. On the other hand, the existing audiences will be targeted through the organization of discussions and workshops, as well as through the publication of relevant educational and critical texts about the presented performances.

Children and youth trainings in the region

In addition to the training of circus professionals, the implementation of the project also entails the training of children and youth in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This involves workshops on basic circus disciplines that will be organized throughout the year in cities such as Travnik, Gornji Vakuf, Novi Sad, Belgrade, and others. Artists from the region will assist interested young people in trying out balancing, object manipulation, various types of acrobatics, and clowning skills, as well as understanding the specificity of this performing art.

Public debates and advocacy

During the implementation of the project CIRCUS = ART, the first edition of the festival Circus Today will be held in Novi Sad from May 17th to 23rd, 2024. This event represents a significant step towards establishing a stronger and more sustainable circus scene in Novi Sad, as well as in the entire region. An integral part of this festival in northern Serbia is a public forum – a round table where artists and professors from renowned French institutions will engage in discussions with the local expert community and audience, on topics relevant to the development of circus art. The forum will be organized on May 18th. Additionally, as part of this year’s edition of the Cirkobalkana festival (September 19th to 28th in Belgrade), open discussions will be initiated on the specificities and significance of circus art, as well as the need for its recognition by decision-makers in the culture and education sectors. On this occasion, a representative from the Department of Arts at the Ministry of Culture of France will be one of the key guest speakers.

Regional cooperation

Regional cooperation is an important segment of the work of the three organizations involved in the implementation of the CIRCUS = ART project, with the Cirkobalkana festival playing a pivotal role in this process. During 2024, the CIRCUS = ART project will contribute to strengthening the existing collaboration between organizations and individuals from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, as well as encourage the initiation of some entirely new projects. Additionally, thanks to this project, new equipment will be donated to the first circus school in Travnik, while the capacities of the regional circus scene will be strengthened through workshops for artists and educators. Joint organization of tours of contemporary circus performances in Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will also foster regional cooperation.