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Circque Nova: another year, another project - against the odds / 1 March 2010

circus skills performer

Cirque Nova in training. Photo © Penny Clapcott

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In November 2009 we finished our first project of training young Disabled people, combining them with a second group of homeless youths. The interaction between the two groups was a great success.

We called the project ‘Stellar’ and afterwards produced a show that involved both the Colombian teachers and the students – some of whom ended up performing 70 feet in the air, suspended from a crane!

We were only able to showcase the project once at a Youth Centre in Leytonstone where we had been doing some paid work for the Duke of Edinburgh scheme with the young people there. This Centre is really under used and is quite beautiful.

As a result of using their grounds, the management of the Centre agreed that if we recruited a majority of users for our next project from within their Borough, we’d be able to use the Centre for free each Saturday.

In order to produce the show we relied on receiving a grant from the DLA which had been more or less been confirmed. This would pay for the showcase, so that our newly trained young people could perform as paid artists with our company, and also for a video of the show that we could sell afterwards.

Regrettably the grant was not paid to us as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London decided to discard the whole program. As you can imagine, this left us with a large debt. However, with the hope that we could still receive funding we continued training our “Stellar” group until November.

In October we had problems with one of our Colombian teachers who left to join the Camden Roundhouse Circus Company. I underwent a seven and a half hour spinal operation to change several discs and other damage to the spine that was affecting my arms and feet. In November I started to feel even more unwell and was diagnosed as having skin cancer. As you can imagine, all of this was quite stressful for me.

In spite of all this my fellow director and I continued fundraising. We continued learning new skills, going to courses on the law for volunteering and employment, and learning about the Social Enterprise programme. This was useful as it kept my mind from dwelling on the aspects of my illness.

Unfortunately the problems with our Colombian teachers continued as we continued to recruit young people for 2010, and preparing the ground for the new project. Also what with the global financial crisis it seemed all very much doom and gloom!

Keywords: circus,