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Imagining Circus Futures

Marina Rieger

Dear [insert your name here],


It’s great to virtually meet you!

I am hereby kindly inviting you to join me on my mobility experience throughout the upcoming weeks, as a participant in the New Horizon Leadership Programme 2020-2021 by BNCN. As one of the Baltic Nordic region’s emerging stakeholders, I am seeking to observe the actors active in the sector, reflecting on the existing infrastructure, and exchanging expertise on how to envision and deal with the challenges of our times.

With the network of participants and partner organisations as an incubator, I will be developing my leadership capabilities in collaboration with the program partner CircusInfo Finland | Sirkkuksen Tiedotuskeskus located in Helsinki. Since 2006 CircusInfo Finland has been a strong institutional advocate for the circus sector, connecting the Finnish professional circus industry and acting on regional and transnational level. It receives funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture and is one of the highly prestigious collaborators in the Baltic Nordic region.

By inviting you to take a look at the circus sector’s operating structure through my perspective, I hope to share where I see a demand for action as well as techniques to tackle important issues of our time. One guiding focus will be the aspect of how to implement the Agenda 2030 Goals for Sustainable Development at an operational level. So please feel free to familiarise yourself with the 17 goals adopted by the United Nations member states and the UNESCO’s thematic indicators for culture in the Agenda 2030.


Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Drawing from my background of growing up with social circus in Germany and touring as a performer, to freelancing off-stage as part of the German-Scandinavian Strapmania Collective, as well as joining circus member associations that campaign for a sustainable development and a better understanding of contemporary circus, I hope to grasp an angle that inspires diverse imaginary futures from an embodied specta(c)torship position. Taking into account the current global crises and ever-changing circumstances of the cultural sector, I see a need for large-scale transformations and, now that I am in the midst of it all, sensitise and raise awareness of the fact that taking action starts with making a move.


Collage art by Marina Rieger

My urge to take part in cultural policy decision-making draws from my encounters when working in circus and performance art related projects with small-scale operators, within the European independent performing arts sector. Providing space for artistic freedom was only possible due to the strong network of solidarity and non-monetary collaboration between partners, since state funding opportunities and access to public arts infrastructure were limited. In the regions I have been active in so far, actor’s collective productivity and innovative creation of value still faces structural marginalisation on many socio-political and public levels, compared to other forms of stage arts.

Since it is not the job of a circus artist to advocate for equal treatment, but to create, I see my part in facilitating the environment needed. Trying to embrace my doing-knowledge and artistic research practices, I will try to envision what tools actors active in the sector need in order to realise their sustainable, urban-nomadic circus futures. In this, I will use the Sustainable Development Goals as stepping stones and look forward to fostering dialogues on discovering new ways of growing those spaces.


You are kindly invited to critically observe my writings, interact, and share your own imaginary circus futures!



Published on: 23. November 2020

NHLP has been made possible with the support of Nordisk Kulturfond and Nordic culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Lund Municipality


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