City Circ is a London-wide network of venues whose aim is to develop contemporary circus and cross artform performance. It was launched in 2009 as an initiative to increase the presence of contemporary circus in London venues. By bringing together circus sympathetic venues into an information network, City Circ increases opportunities for artists, raises the profile of the artform, develops audiences and explores new ways to link circus with dance, visual arts and the spoken word. In its first two years, Crying Out Loud headed the City Circ initiative. As advisors and advocates it was Crying Out Loud’s job to introduce programmers and producers to the best, most adventurous, and experimental work at the crossroads of artforms.
There is a core group of members: Jacksons Lane, National Centre for Circus Arts, Roundhouse, artsdepot, The Albany, Stratford Circus and Crying Out Loud. The wider membership includes Oval House, Albert and Friends, Hackney Empire, London International Mime Festival, Harrow Arts Centre, Southbank Centre and more.
In 2009 the first season brought together nineteen shows in thirteen London boroughs. There was major new work from Ockham’s Razor in collaboration with Theatre-Rites at Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, a landmark production at the English National Opera overseen by ex- Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize director Daniele Finzi Pasca, and imported productions from around the world.
In 2010, Crying Out Loud brokered two artistic residencies at two City Circ venues; Acrojou Circus Theatre went to Stratford to develop a new show for young people, and Ockham’s Razor were paired with artsdepot to research ideas for a new family promenade piece. In the same year a delegation of venue managers and directors from the network toured venues in Sweden and visited the Cirko Festival in Finland.
Organised by the City Circ network, Canvas is a three-day showcase for programmers and producers who want to encounter the best of UK contemporary circus hosted by five of London’s leading circus venues — Roundhouse, Jacksons Lane, artsdepot, the Albany and Stratford Circus. The showcase combines presentations of tour-ready shows and work-in-progress with practical sessions on marketing and audience development. Launched in 2013 the 4th edition will take place in April 2017.