Penny Miles is the new Executive Producer at Circa. She reflects on Circa's model of working collaboratively with presenters to curate experiences that are right for their audiences.
Circa’s approach is to work closely and collaboratively with presenters to find the right shows and experiences for their venues, events and audiences.
For the North Queensland tour in July and August 2015, Circa performed four different shows in Mackay, Innisfail and Cairns and facilitated communities' participation in circus experiences. Circa performed in a diverse range of venues including large performing arts theatres, a town hall, and outdoors as part of large-scale events.
The conversations with presenters began two years before the tour. It involved forging a strong understanding of the different needs of presenters and for them to understand what could be possible in bringing Circa to their region.
Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre wanted to program Circa as part of their Mackay Festival of Arts. They were keen to involve Circa in workshops at their incredibly popular Food and Wine Festival as well as a main-stage performance at the MECC. We were able to present the Australian premiere of a new show What Will Have Been to give Mackay audiences a unique offering as part of their festival.
For Cairns, we worked closely with the Cairns Civic Theatre and the Cairns Festival team to develop a week-long residency as part of the Festival. The original conversation with the presenter was not based on selling a particular show, rather it centred on what the company could do within lots of different environments, to meet various programming and community needs, and to attract different audiences. They also wanted to work collaboratively with us to help build an audience for Circa as we hadn’t performed in Cairns before.
The outcome for the residency involved Circa appearing in the main outdoor festival events - the Cairns Parade and the family event Carnival on Collins. A performance of 46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes was held at the beautiful Innisfail Shire Hall. We were also able to tailor workshop experiences for children, young people and emerging performers in Cairns and Innisfail. The week culminated in a free outdoor performance of Beyond that attracted over 2500 people in Fogarty Park.
Stephen Foster, Manager Cultural Services Cairns Regional Council, reflected that "Circa made their debut in Cairns Festival and embedded themselves into the hearts and minds of our community, enchanting our audiences and leaving them spellbound throughout our Festival program. True to their roots, they were once more catapulted to rockstar status with a rousing standing ovation for Beyond by the 2500 strong crowd! Circa well and truly have a new home in the Far North..."
The curated model gives presenters some choice in programming beyond buying a particular show, and offers some flexibility around how a company can be involved in different community events. For the producers, it allows for a deeper engagement in a community and helps build new audiences.
Circa gratefully acknowledges the support received from Arts Queensland Playing Queensland fund as well as the partnerships with the presenters and the communities involved.