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The Belfast Community Circus was established in 1985 thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of Donal McKendry and the late Mike Moloney, who found themselves introducing community circus to Northern Ireland during a time when there was a desperate need for positive shared experiences for young people from different communities.
As in so many cases throughout the world, the lure of the circus has proved irresistible and the momentum gained has been so unstoppable that, twenty seven years down the line Belfast Community Circus finds itself in the position of being one of the most prolific arts organisations in Northern Ireland and a leading light in the international world of social circus.
The ability of circus to provide an equal platform for people regardless of where they come from has long been evident in traditional circus with its international artists - a diversity reflected in the tutor team for the School where we have teachers from Northern Ireland working alongside people from Sweden, Germany, Australia, England, Republic of Ireland, United States and Canada.
To this end, the Belfast Community Circus acts not only as a vehicle for teaching children and young people in some of the most needy communities in Northern Ireland, but also as a training school for professional teachers and performers of circus arts. In addition, the Circus acts as a promoter for performers, in the form of Premiere Circus, and as a venue to host visiting and indigenous circus productions.
As well as this, Belfast Community Circus boasts a cross community Youth Circus which has been run continuously throughout the troubled times of the past twenty three years, providing training and performance opportunities for young people aged 8-18 irrespective of their backgrounds. Since 1999, the School has been resident in purpose built circus premises in a neutral area right in the heart of the city of Belfast. If you are ever in the neighbourhood, please call in for a guided tour and a chat.
In 2004, Belfast Circus School launched the Festival of Fools - an annual street theatre festival - providing the best of international and homegrown street art across the centre of Belfast.
Belfast Community Circus has been awarded the highest arts award in Northern Ireland, the Bass Ireland Arts Award for the work with adults in pioneering circus theatre in Ireland. In 1999, Belfast Community Circus was one of the recipients of the final Guardian Jerwood Award for Excellence in The Community - a UK wide award. In 2006, the work on Festival of Fools received an Arts and Business award for work in the community undertaken with the Laganside Corporation.