Testimony – Simon Clarke’s project in the UK


Simon Clarke from Australia tells us about his mobility project in the United Kingdom.



The overall experience had a profound effect on me. It will influence our direction in relation to our partners NICA and Flying Fruit Fly Circus and my approach to company management and working with young people. In particular, there were new partnerships established and the possibility of future projects discussed. For example:

  • Establishment of relationship with management of Youth Circus program at NCCA with view to initiating trainer exchanges, information sharing and professional development opportunities
  • Greater understanding of the EVS (European Voluntary Service) component of project and how WSC could maximise our benefit from the scheme
  • Development of partnerships with EiP and, for future projects
  • Opportunity to implement circus trainer training systems used by NCCA
  • Establishment of relationship with National Theatre Wales with a view to further explore their ongoing support mechanisms for emerging artists and structures of community engagement
  • Establishment of relationship with Circomedia with a view to develop project links including possible student and teacher exchanges, sharing curriculum developments and other relevant information
  • Examination of training structures and pathways available to young people in UK and ability to make comparisons between WSC programs and those examined.



National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA) in London had some interesting similarities and more interesting differences to WSC. As the UK’s elite circus training school they have a strong youth circus program and are trying to develop a stronger outreach and social circus program. Their youth circus classes run a very similar model to WSC, with streams in recreational circus, focused skills development and performance. In between this level and their degree level training, they offer stepping stones of CAT course (Centre for Advanced Training) and BTEC (Cert III or IV in Australia). The CAT course is not accredited by the Department of Education, but it is recognised as a marker of commitment and maturity in a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Leeds Children’s Circus is an organisation operating out of a church hall with between 20 and 30 young participants. They rely heavily on volunteerism and have been operating this way for almost 20 years. The performance I saw was fun and the kids had a great time. Given the equipment, resources etc. they had, the organisation does admirably.


Overall, the discovery tour was affirming and inspiring in equal measure. It has boosted my commitment to building pathways for participants, from first contact in Social Circus and Access programs, into our Youth Circus (recreational and skills development) and performance. These are pathways we already have capacity to offer, but stronger enticements or encouragement could be applied. The next step is to develop stepping stones from what we offer into the partner courses of Flying Fruit Fly Circus or NICA.

This approach strengthens our position as an organisation working in a ‘social context’, and our philosophy of access and inclusion. We understand that the building blocks of successful circus artists are transferable skills and qualities that are valued in a range of professions and help young people to navigate complex relationships and situations with which life is rich.

Through creating pathways from first contact to elite artist, we offer all youth an opportunity to improve themselves through circus. Young people can follow the ‘paths’ we create for as long as they desire and if they choose to pursue other career options, we will ideally be able to articulate how they have benefitted; be it improved self-esteem, increased physical health, strength or dexterity, greater capacity to learn or work in a team or commit to a task or find creative solutions.