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The Aotearoa New Zealand Circus Association is delighted to announce that our new look and website are now live. 
Take a look at it here and let us know what you think.
by Eli Joseph
This year marked and an important and historic moment in the world of circus. On May the 21st the iconic Ringling Bros. Circus will performed their final show. PT Barnum’s greatest show on earth stood as the yardstick for the great American traveling circus. Their lesser credits include introducing belly dancing to the public consciousness, playing a vital role in the formation of pole dance as an artform (I have heard several theories/histories on just how it achieved this, and I leave others to argue the specifics), and being a driving force of expansion for the trans-American railroad network. You need haul fifty rail cars of show to more destinations, you’d better invest in more tracks. At one point the circus owned nearly 50% of the railroads. Heck, that stars-and-stripes bearded face of Uncle Sam? He’s based on a stilt-walker. This is a show that shaped America’s arts, infrastructure, and national identity.

A titan in sparkly tights, the Ringling Bros. has been operating (in various incarnations, but currently under Feld Entertainment) for 146 years. For scale, that’s nearly five times as long as Cirque du Soleil, and 16 times over for Circus Aotearoa and the Zirka clan.

In a world of freely available digital media, one of the biggest challenges for Feld Entertainment is one that live performance is facing on a global scale. Despite changes to the show, the more “traditional” models of circus struggled to keep drawing audiences, and Ringling stood as a prime example of this style of show. How do we get bums on seats? Off of phones, away from screens, and physically into performances spaces.  Spoiler: I don’t have the answers for this question, otherwise I would be a much richer person.
These spaces are in themselves another issue for any show of Ringling’s scale. Hauling around your big top is one model (increasingly hampered by building consent and zoning permits). Or build a new venue. 
For those of us without the resources to carry a tent, or build a custom fit venue (lookin’ at you, Cirque'), finding accessible venues with mid range capacities, secure rig points for aerials, and all the associated to amenities required to stage a full scale circus is an increasingly difficult task. This is made even harder by the closure of spaces due to falling attendance. Many landlords would rather convert their performance spaces into retail or residential spaces that provide a secure and consistent income. 
It’s little wonder that Feld Entertainment’s tour dates began to focus on longer seasons in fewer venues, the venues became as endangered as the elephants.
After the show closed, over 500 cast and crew were be looking for work. Thankfully, the Disney megalith has stepped up and offered jobs to some of the performers, but not the majority. The animals are being re-homed to various zoos and nature parks. 
The only people who seem the be thrilled at the news are PETA, who tweeted about the closure of “the saddest show on Earth”. The Ringling Bros were the largest traveling show to continue using animals in their performances. PETA have been fighting them vocally for 36 years, and in 2015 pressured them into removing elephants from the show altogether.

PETA still have Cavalia to pick fights with, now one of the largest shows left in the world, I'm wishing equestrian experts Cavalia the best of luck. If a giant the size of the Ringlings can fall, then we all need to question the role of large-scale circus in the 21st Century.
ANZCA Committee Update October 2017
  • We wrote a draft ‘scope of circus in Aotearoa’ to define who it is we are representing and who we are not representing, which we will put forward to our members once it is ready for feedback.

  • We’ve been working with an insurance broker to find the best insurance package for independent circus artists in NZ.

  • Jo Stott and Eve Gordon obtained approval from Creative NZ for a reconnaissance trip to Melbourne where they met with industry leaders there about their Health and Safety systems and legislation, as well as key circus figures on how the circus sector in Australia functions as well as first-hand feedback of ACAPTA’s services for their circus industry.

  • We've started planning for the next 6 months, the next year and beyond.

    Continue reading here

Here are a few photos from the recent Auckland showing of Afterworld.
Written and directed by Ellie May Marshall, Afterworld is an epic journey of a man who gets propelled into a topsy turvey universe where all kinds of beautiful creatures & unusual cretins live... but not all is dazzling nor what it we all know, the circus is unpredictable.
Circus, theatre, dance

14th Nov-10th Dec
with Rosita Hendry

12th November
Circotica, Christchurch
Circus with sparkle

Hannah Playhouse
16-18th November

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ANZCA · PO Box 12954 · Penrose · Auckland, Akld 1642 · New Zealand

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