People, Community, Partnership and Enrichment
There is a unique partnership that has made Circus Central possible, that of Circus, School and Parish. Since 2009 we have been meeting regularly developing the partnership which will see Circus Central work successfully for the long term. All the partners have at their core the commitment to serve their community. All three are particularly committed to serving the resilient resident community of Shieldfield whose residents come from 3 main areas: longstanding residents; those who have settled from all over the world and a growing more transient population of students.
Circus Central has a programme of regular circus activity, including: an after school circus club for pupils of Christ Church; Five Ring Circus, our Youth Circus, a popular and long adult social circus and juggling club for Newcastle called “Club Circus Central” as well as professional master classes and Community classes for children and families.
We are seeing the circus community grow as many newcomers, who have never yet participated in circus, gather alongside those who are desperate to do more. We are attracting professional and social circus people to Newcastle because of Circus Central’s potential to nurture them some are staying. Participants in our activities regularly travel from all over the NE. Our European Project ‘Circonnection” which we are running in partnership with Let’s Circus will run until 2014. And will see visitors form France, Spain and Ireland.
Circus Central will increasingly become a stopping point for professional performers seeking training space and a host to artists in residence. The circus community greatly benefits from the high level of skills these people can share, either as trainers or as inspirational performers. The circus world which is comes to the NE will further enrich Circus Central and lift our local circus skills hugely. This growing pool of skilled and talented circus artists significantly adds to the quality of creative and artistic circus performances in the NE. Circus Central’s training programmes helps to tip the balance towards local performers at local events, which is important to Local Authorities, as the NE has been a net importer of circus and street arts to date.
Christ Church C of E Primary School has an array of wonderful children. Among the 100 pupils 19 languages spoken and approximately 50% of children on free school meals. The school is a friendly place with a dedicated head teacher and staff, who are all fully supportive of Circus Central. The School currently hosts our existing circus activities in their Gym. In the recent Ofsted report it was noted that the children enthusiastically identified with the circus in their school. We have some very talented children attending the after-school circus club many of whom are now proficient unicyclists.
The School is benefiting from new equipment and is integrating circus into the curriculum. This is pioneering for a UK school and as a result Christ Church pupils are finding that their world is expanding through Circus. Many pupils who have graduated from the school club into the youth circus and performance troupe and have become involved in regional projects, others have had their first forays into performance and delighted their parents and community.
The Parish Church of Christ Church Shieldfield celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary in 2011. The congregation though small us dedicated to the community. The Parochial Parish Council (PPC) for a number of years has been looking for ways in which the building can be of more benefit to the wider community. The building is currently on the at risk register.
As the partnership has developed, the parishioners have found that the objectives of the circus are very similar to theirs. We all want to include the community and see Christ Church buildings and Circus Central flourish. Parishioners have got to know the circus and seen the benefits the school children have enjoyed through participation in circus. The PPC’s decision to share their church will keep the building and Christ Church parish at the centre of an interesting and vibrant community. It will remain a place of regular worship and church activities. The future of Christ Church as a place of worship and community asset depends on the success of this project.
While the circus is most active in the building, Christ Church buildings also regularly host other community groups and activities. Weaving all these communities into the building means that the building is an increasingly busy place.
Next to the building is a small city park called Shieldfield Green. It is a perfect place for the circus life to spill onto, for practice space and events, there is room for a small Big Top. The Green has being redeveloped with an area for performance.
To date we have worked on joint projects with The University of Northumbria and Newcastle University, Tyne and Wear Museums and are developing other projects and partnerships with educational and cultural institutions.