NUI Galway Partner with Galway Community Circus To Develop a Curriculum for Circus Teachers

Launching the NUI Galway and Galway Community Circus partnership were, from left, Dr Ian Walsh, Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, NUI Galway, Ulla Hokkanen, Executive Artistic Director of Galway Community Circus, and NUI Galway Bachelor of Arts students Darragh O’Donohoe and Julietter O’Donnell. Photo by Aengus McMahon.
Nov 19 2019 Posted: 14:01 GMT

NUI Galway and Galway Community Circus have launched a new partnership for 2019-2022 to develop circus arts in Galway and Ireland. Galway Community Circus were recently successful in their Erasmus+ grant application for a three-year research project Circus++ in the first European wide, third level, long term training programme for circus teachers.

A grant of €360,000 was awarded for the research and development programme: ‘Circus++ Youth and Social Circus Arts – an innovative and inclusive education for Europe’. It will allow Galway Community Circus, along with four other circus schools across Europe, and three universities (including NUI Galway), to devise a curriculum for the first ever BA and MA courses in Youth and Social Circus, in the world. The future curriculum will be delivered by the partnering universities from 2022 onwards. Lead partner, the University of Tampere Finland, will lead the project together with Finnish circus partner, Sorin Sirkus and the International Youth and Social Circus Network Caravan. Finland is an international leader in social circus and has used circus in a theraputic and educational context for many years.

Executive Artistic Director of Galway Community Circus and Finnish native,  Ulla Hokkanen, said: “Circus++ means that Galway Community Circus will be at the forefront of this exciting, international development in youth and social circus. Through the project, circus will be understood on a deeper level for the developmental and well-being benefits it offers, as well as for its unique characteristics as an art form. We are delighted that NUI Galway will be part of this jourrney with us, providing a new and innovative educational offering to Irish and international students.’’

Dr Ian Walsh, Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, NUI Galway said: “The development of this new curriculum in partnership with Galway Community Circus and our other European partners offers NUI Galway the opportunity to develop new expertise in assessing and evaluating the circus arts and to build on our current teaching and research in the areas of applied theatre and popular performance studies. There is great value in students studying the circus arts as it develops skills in concentration, working together as an ensemble and task completion.”

Galway Community Circus is a flagship for Youth and Social Circus and has been in operation for 18 years. It is one of the most active arts organisations in the country, with over 650 members a week attending classes and training at their venue in Shantalla. In 2020, the company will present ‘Wires Crossed – A Balancing Act for Europe’, produced in partnership with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and the European Funambulism Network. This tightwire project will see 400 people cross the River Corrib and The Claddagh Basin in August 2020, to highlight positive mental health. 

NUI Galway will also partner with Galway Community Circus on the Creative Europe funded project ‘Wires Crossed: Head, Heart, Balance’, a shared project with The Serious Road Trip (Romania), Ecole de Cirque de Bruxelles, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. This will see ‘Wires Crossed’ continue on to the Capital of Culture 2021 in Timisoara, Romania, as well as the publishing of scientific research on the neurological effects of funambulism on the brain. ‘Wires Crossed: Head, Heart, Balance’, will run from October 2019-September 2022, with NUI Galway being the evaluator for the project.

Circus+ is a partnership project between universities and circus schools from five partner countries. Partners include Tampere University, Sorin Sirkus, Stockholm University of Arts, Cirkus Cirkör, Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde, NUI Galway, Galway Community Circus, CIRQUEON and Caravan - International Youth and Social Circus Network.

For further information contact Dani Gill, Communications Co-ordinator, Galway Community Circus at or 085 7604072.


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