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An introduction from our new Chief Executive, Jenna Hall

Jenna demonstrating her aerial hoop skills!

Almost three weeks ago I moved to Belfast to take up the role of Chief Executive for Belfast Community Circus School (BCCS). The move followed a summer of travel, training (flying trapeze) and too many wonky handstands photos, which in hindsight ruined the often far more beautiful views behind.

I’ve not looked back.

If my first 11 working days are anything to go by, I am going to love it here. The quality and quantity of work delivered by BCCS, Premiere and Festival of Fools is astonishing. The team, tutors and performers are full of skill, knowledge, energy and good humour. Our partners are sympathetic to how tough it has been for the organisation over the past few years and our members inspire me every time I pop into a class - whether it be Itty Bitty (2-7 year olds), Youth Circus (8-18 year olds) or Adult Circus. I’m looking forward to getting out to some of our Outreach projects in the next week or two as well as seeing the Youth Circus Christmas Cabaret (Book your tickets now:

Some priorities are emerging quicker than others...Three of my main ones for the remainder of this financial year are as follows: 1) To communicate brilliantly with each other, but also across the sector and to new audiences and communities. 2) To secure some longer term funding, alongside seeking renewal of our current grants, awards and contracts. 3) To ensure clarity, focus and purpose in our systems, processes and approaches - helping us all to work through the same simple systems to achieve the best possible results time and time again. There will be more, I am sure.

For now, I see it as my role to listen, to learn and to help shape the next year whilst I find my feet and understand more about what the team need, our members/students want and how best to get there, together. I also need to learn more about Belfast and Northern Ireland.

In terms of some background about me. I am from Devon originally, but have lived all over England, so starting afresh in an unfamiliar city is not unusual for me. That said, I am keen to pick up hints, tips etc from each of you - whether it be about who’s who, places to eat or where to head off to on a day trip - all suggestions welcome. If you see me passing by, please do be the first to say hello and, similarly, be patient as I try to learn a hundred new names and faces in a few weeks. Work wise I’ve always worked to improve outcomes for children and families, often through arts, culture and play. I’ve worked for some of the UK’s largest charities and some of the smallest. I’ve led some brilliant partnership projects and see real value in developing strong relationships across the charitable, public and private sectors. So, if you think we could do some interesting work together, please send me an email or come and say hello.

In short, I am beyond excited to have joined the organisation and to have this opportunity to lead us to achieve more than we ever thought possible. If you have ideas, feedback, comments or insight - I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email to say hello.

Christmas Show for Circus250

Christmas has come around again and with it comes another amazing, cabaret style show from the Belfast Youth Circus, this year being particularly special as it is the 250th Anniversary of the birth of circus! This gives our Youth the opportunity to showcase their skills for this celebration.

Loved by adults and children alike, this years show promises to be bigger and better than ever - but you will have to see it to believe it! Showcasing the skills and abilities of the highly talented Youth Circus as they perform festive treats in an action packed cabaret format. Featuring a cast of 76 young people who will present a spectacular show featuring juggling, acrobatics, Chinese pole and aerial skills. There are 5 shows on over the weekend of Fri 14th - Sun 16th December, with one show on the Friday at 7pm and 2 shows daily on the Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 6pm.

Tickets available NOW priced at £8.00 each, book fast as these tickets will fly out! You can purchase through the PayPal button here:

Christmas Show 2018

Alternatively you can arrange payment via GoCardless, or call in with cash/cheque - sales will only be confirmed upon payment

Adult Circus Timetable, Sept-Dec 2018

Belfast Community Circus School has been running a session for adults every Wednesday night for the past ten years. This session caters for a mixture of professionals and hobbyists.

The class operates as a structured session comprising of: games, a warm up, one hours tuition (for example juggling, acrobatics or trapeze), conditioning and cool down, with juice and biscuits to finish. It is not compulsory to partake in the hour’s tuition, and this allows people of differing skill levels the freedom to make use of the class. Please wear clothing in which it's easy to move.

Adult Circus - Wednesdays - 7.30pm -9.30pm

Classes receive an element of subsidy from Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council, but we ask for a suggested donation of £8 per two hour session to help cover costs (£6 concession)


05/09/18 E&M and Tumbling

12/09/18 E&M and Tumbling

19/09/18 Intermediate Rope and Tumbling

26/09/18 Intermediate Rope and Tightwire

03/10/18 Intermediate Rope and Tightwire

10/10/18 Beginner Trapeze and Tightwire

17/10/18 Beginner Trapeze and Partner Acrobatics

24/10/18 Beginner Trapeze and Partner Acrobatics

31/10/18 <<< CLOSED for Halloween >>>

07/11/18 Beginner Silk and Pole

14/11/18 Tightwire and Pole

21/11/18 Tightwire and Pole

28/11/18 Intermediate Trapeze and Handstands

05/12/18 Intermediate Trapeze and Handstands

12/12/18 Beginner Silk and Tumbling

19/12/18 Beginner Silk and Tumbling

26/12/18 <<<<<< CLOSED for Christmas >>>>>>

02/01/19 <<<<<< CLOSED for New Year's >>>>>

  • Except where marked as 'beginners trapeze', aerial skills are for those with previous aerial experience, for safety reasons.

At the moment Adult Circus is very popular. Due to Health and Safety regulations and our ‘open door’ policy, we may have to turn people away, if there are too many people who turn up on the evening. In this event, we will give preference to our members over non-members.

Membership costs £15 per year for an individual or £20 for a family.

For more information, email or call 02890 236 007

Circus Legends - Prague Exchange 2018

A huge thank you to Josh Lynas, Youth Circus member, for capturing these wonderful moments from the recent Circus Legends exchange to Prague.

You can view the video here.

Our guys represented Belfast Circus with fellow youth circus members from CIRQUEON, Cirkus in Beweging , Fuskabo, Galway Community Circus and Zaltimbanq' Zirkus.

Over these days, they shared skills, language and cultures as well as creating a full blown show - We love our circus family, and we can't wait so go back!

Special thanks to the sponsors of this trip for allowing it all to happen: Erasmus+, Léargas, Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network, Arts Council Ireland, Galway City Arts Service, Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture

A Letter From an Old Fool (of Festival)

This is my last day as Interim Director of Belfast Circus. Although I’ve completed my tenure I’m still leaving with a sense of regret that I’m unable to see the job finished with the appointment of a new CEO. Nevertheless, that recruitment search continues, getting the right leader is vital.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Circus and have a deep appreciation and respect for the dedication of our artists, performers and tutors. The staff team has been really supportive and, while challenges still lie ahead, I’m confident that when we work together we can achieve so much. Here is a small reminder of progress made over the last 7 months.

• We recruited 4 new members of staff, Georgia, Noeleen, Hillas and Eimear all of whom have added to the team’s work ethic.

• Our outreach officers have got our outreach work back on track and are developing exciting new partnerships to ensure delivery in future.

• We’ve greatly improved our safeguarding with additional training, Access NI checking, professional practice reviewing & developing new policies.

• We’ve successfully applied for core & programme funding from ACNI & Lottery Funding for Festival of Fools. We brought in additional income from sponsors for Festival and almost doubled our income from our audience.

• We’ve raised grants from Belfast City Council, from TBUC, the EA & most recently won a tender with East Antrim Council.

• Together we delivered a great Festival of Fools, a fitting tribute to its founder, our own Will Chamberlain.

• We’ve begun a European project in partnership with 4 other arts organisations which will culminate in more performances at FoF 2020

• Premiere Circus has increased its overall bookings & we’re planning a marketing event for commissioners in September.

• We’re running more classes across our venues than ever before and making more skills training available in St Martins.

• We’re developing a new strategic plan with Roger Courtney & stakeholders have had opportunities to feed into this.

• A new online finance system has been installed and a new finance administration system will be introduced to staff shortly.

• We’ve introduced new staff training and development opportunites.

• All our tutors, staff and performers can access free up to 6 sessions of counseling support with Inspire.

There is still much more to do to ensure an exciting future for Belfast Circus but I have every confidence that you will meet the challenges ahead.

I’ve prepared a handover document for my CO3 colleague and new Interim Director, Alan Hanna. I’ll endeavor to support Belfast Circus through this transition period. I’m off to shoot my first documentary next week so wish me luck.

I’d like to thank the Board for giving me the opportunity to lead the organization in transition. They give of their time freely and I know the significant additional hours they have been putting in of late.

Finally, I’d like to thank the parents, guardians and the young people of Belfast Circus. We are your faithful servants and seeing young people achieve and succeed is truly inspiring.

When we work together we are unbeatable.

Yours faithfully,

Fergus Cooper OBE

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