What is Social Circus?

The transformative power of circus connects education, physical art and social development. Social Circus is more than teaching circus skills. It is a tool for transformation, discipline, creativity and artistic expression.

In its modern form, circus has gone beyond mere entertainment: play and circus arts are tools for teaching social skills, overcoming trauma and developing essential capacities and the ability to take responsibility.

Social Circus shows the power of the arts as a tool for human development and social change.

S4SK social circus kids in Pearle, Mingaladon, north of Yangon
Hoops outside S4SK classroom in Mingaladon

Social Circus nurtures a creative environment where young people can access quality arts training, learn how to share these skills in their own community, benefit from social support, develop their creativity and life-skills.

Social Circus is accessible to all – participants don’t need to have literacy skills to take part and fully engage. It is free at the point of access. It works effectively with the poorest people but empowers them to engage, learn, play, laugh, join a group, share their skills and do things as a team across social boundaries. It feeds back positive energy into their community.

S4SK social circus group learning plate spinning
Boys practice spinning plates under the poster of father of the nation, Aung San.

*We have taken some of these definitions from other Social circus groups across the world as they express it so well and we couldn’t put it better!*

Social Circus Myanmar’s values are:

Diversity
Inclusion
Accessibility
Gender Equality
Sharing
Learning through Play
Fun
Creativity


Social Circus models

Here are just a few examples of Social Circus projects running in different locations. We include a brief description of their activities. Each one is different, reflecting local needs and local resources. The right model for Myanmar will be determined by Myanmar people as it grows over the next few years.

 

RED NOSE FOUNDATION (http://www.rednosefoundation.org)
Red Nose Foundation (RNF), or Yayasan Hidung Merah, is a non-profit arts and education outreach organization based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Established in 2008, the foundation works at the grass-root level to help local underprivileged kids build their dreams. By teaching these kids circus skills and other arts while honing their mathematical and English-speaking abilities, we hope they will develop the confidence and courage to accomplish any dream they have for their future.

 

PHARE PONLEU SELPAK (PPS) ( http://www.phareps.org)

“Phare Ponleu Selpak” which means “the brightness of the arts”, began life in 1986 in the Site 2 refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border. A group of 9 of children who took part in drawing workshops in the camp had the idea to form a creative association to help other children express the trauma of war.

 

MOBILE MINI CIRCUS FOR CHILDREN (MMCC) ( http://www.afghanmmcc.org)

The Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) and its local partner, the Afghan Educational Children’s Circus (AECC), together form a cooperative International/Afghan non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young people. MMCC is the supervising umbrella organization under which AECC operates. Activities, however, are run jointly and cooperatively. Both organizations are registered with the Afghan Ministry of Economy.

Established in 2002, MMCC/AECC has grown into a country-wide education program focusing on teaching children to lead. MMCC/AECC’s basic philosophy is that children know best how to communicate with other children. The goal is to give children the tools they need so they can themselves develop creative and novel ways of spreading fun education throughout Afghanistan.

 

ZIP-ZAP http://www.zip-zap.co.za/

Mission: To take “ordinary” kids (including “youth-at-risk”) and provide them with the resources to develop skills, through the medium of Circus Arts, that will develop them as young leaders, good citizens, ambassadors for South Africa, and make them eminently employable.

To provide innovative cutting edge professional training and entertainment thereby providing opportunities for youth to fulfill their potential and contributing to the growth of a healthy nation.

 

CIRQUE DU MONDE

Cirque du Monde is a social circus program created by Cirque du Soleil and Jeunesse du Monde, which targets at-risk youth. It combines circus techniques together with educational social intervention to help young people.

Social circus aims to help these young people get their self-confidence back, make them realize their strengths and discover their hidden talents. Cirque du Monde is offered by organizations working with at-risk youth.

Cirque du Monde does not claim to be a cure-all for the various social problems, but neither is it some vague pastime that only succeeds in distracting young people from their real situation. It wants to offer young participants, be they from Canada, Brazil, Mongolia or elsewhere, a springboard toward a new stage in their lives.

 

INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL CIRCUS DAY

Celebrated for the first time on 2 April 2016, our Myanmar teams staged one of 59 events which took place around the world with free public workshops and a photo exhibition in Yangon.

Pho Ke Master of Plates
Pho Ke demonstrates spinning plate technique during International Social Circus Day

If you know of resources or social circuses that we don’t list below, then please tell us about them by using the Comments at the bottom of this page! We are sure there are more great things happening. Thank you.

Links to useful resources

Social Circus Map Social Circus Map – Cirque du Soleil Canada

Social Circus Day 2016 http://www.socialcircusday.org/

http://www.circusfederation.org/social_circus

Caravan Circus Network | Changing lives through circus Europe

Asian Social Circus Association « Connecting Circus From Canberra To Kabul

http://ghrp.ubc.ca/research/current-research-projects/social-circus-and-health-equity/ Social Circus and Health Equity

 

Some Social Circus Projects (there are many more than those we list here!)

Asia

Circus Kathmandu Nepal

Freedom Matters, United Kingdom/Nepal

Mobile Mini Circus for Children, Afghanistan

 

South-East Asia

Circus in Motion, Singapore

Beyond Social Services, Singapore

Viva Vertical, Hong Kong

KELY Support Group Limited, Hong Kong

Macau Youth Circus Arts, Macau

Hong Kong Social Circus Limited (Formerly Dream Social Circus), Hong Kong

 

Africa

Welcome – Zip Zap Circus. South Africa

One Love Theatre, Ethiopia

Sarakasi Trust Kenya

 

Americas

www.urban-circolombia.com Colombia

The Growing Circus and Life Brasil

ONG Artes para la Vida, Chile

El Circo del Mundo – Chile

Cuerda Firme Chile

Circo del Sur Argentina

Home – CircEsteem USA

Circus Harmony USA

Green Fools Physical Theatre, Canada

http://www.socialcircuscircle.ca/ Canada

 

Oceania

Circability Trust, New Zealand

Cirkidz Inc, Australia

Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Australia

Vertical Circus, Australia

Westside Circus, Australia

Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Assoc. (ACAPTA), Australia

National Institute of Circus Arts Australia (NICA), Australia

Flying Fruit Fly Circus | Ordinary Kids Doing Extraordinary Things Australia

Flipside Circus – Unthink The Impossible Australia

 

Europe

Belfast Community Circus Northern Ireland

Organised Kaos Wales

Let’s Circus, England

Performers Without Borders, United Kingdom

Cirqueon, Czech Republic

Sharing is useful to us, what about you?