Watershed Moment in American Performing Arts

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Arts Council of New Orleans adds Circus Arts as an explicit category for arts funding

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana— Arts Council of New Orleans and Circus Now, a national organization dedicated to promoting and progressing the circus arts in America, are proud to announce “circus arts” as a new form of artistic eligibility on the upcoming Arts Council 2014 New Orleans artist grant applications. The Arts Council of New Orleans will be the first US arts council to adopt such a category, which signals New Orleans interest in becoming a nationwide leader in circus performance and practice.

According to grant documentation, circus artists will now be eligible to apply for project support through the City of New Orleans’ Community Arts Grants program, wherein the circus arts are defined as “a form of performing art in which the instrument of artistic expression is the body’s precise movement, which is based on circus technique and is combined with objects or instruments from a circus discipline.” Other countries, including Finland and France, as well as the province of Quebec, have made similar funding adjustments to recognize the validity of the circus as a performing art and support the creation of emerging artistic circus.

The announcement comes in the midst of a surge in circus practice and performance, both in America and abroad. Around the country, over 1,000 programs now offer circus arts training. Prestigious venues, including BAM and the Spoleto Festival, have added creative circus programming.


New Orleans has also seen a surge of circus performance, thanks in part to the New Orleans Fringe Festival, which also has a circus arts category on their application, and local companies, such as Cirque du Gras. Recently the city has also started attracting internationally-recognized circus artists, including Liza Rose, the founder of ticktock dance and an aerialist for Mezzo Lunatico with Seattle-based Teatro Zin Zanni and Acrobatic Conundrum.

The circus movement fits naturally into the city’s dynamic arts culture, already brimming with spectacular, alternative, and experimental performance. Historically, too, New Orleans was an important stopping point for the great traveling circuses of the past. During the 19th century New Orleans, was even the host of a permanent circus performance space, on what was later known as “Circus” Street.

Arts Council CEO, Kim Cook, has a long-standing relationship with contemporary circus arts. Cook,  with the help of Circus Now, realized the importance of making clear that circus art is a unique art form that deserves explicit recognition within eligible grant categories.  Circus Now assisted in crafting a clear definition of circus arts as a unique blend of creativity, physicality, and community. Together the Arts Council and Circus Now look forward to working together to supporting and cultivating the circus arts in New Orleans.



Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. As a multidisciplinary arts agency, the Arts Council operates in three conceptual areas: People- Community Engagement and the Creative Citizen, Place- Civic Design and the Urban Aesthetic, and Artists- Artistic Excellence and Creative Services. Each area works to advance the Arts Council’s overall mission to nurture creativity and enrich lives through inspiration, connection, transformation, and investment in the New Orleans arts and cultural community.


The deadline to submit applications for the 2015 fiscal year grants through the Arts Council of New Orleans online granting system is before midnight on May 15, 2014.  


For more information on grants, the Arts Council, or to join as a member of the organization call: (504) 523-1465 or visit:  www.artscouncilofneworleans.org

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