Circus Snapshot

A qualitative research project

What can we do to ensure a resilient thriving circus sector in the future?

There has been a surge in the quantity and quality of companies, an increase in programming opportunities and a significant increased interest in circus-based performance from audiences across the country.

But, in comparison to other art-forms, the circus sector infrastructure remains limited and there is a need for more high-level advocacy for it to thrive.

Working with a small advisory team and with funds from Arts Council England, Crying Out Loud commissioned Daisy Drury to lead on a qualitative research project to create a snapshot overview of the subsidised circus sector in England today. Its aim? To begin to create new pathways for the development of the circus sector.

The research was completed in February 2020 and its findings are published here.

You will find a film which outlines the original seven Missions resulting from the research, the data alongside an explanation of the project methodology and an interactive ISSUU featuring 29 Circus Snapshot Cards, each of which is dedicated to a theme, an idea, an observation or a challenge. These were used to stimulate debate at the regional meetings which were convened in autumn 2019.

We invited circus artists and arts professionals working in the sector to contribute to the conversation about what the future of the circus sector might look like – Slow Thinking with Circus Snapshot took place on 29th July.

  • Circus Snapshot Missions

    Circus Snapshot is a call for action. The research findings present the following seven Missions as a framework for taking action:

    1. Build the reputation of circus
    2. Establish a national database
    3. Create a national programme of residencies and development opportunities
    4. Create a collaborative touring network
    5. Plan and deliver a range of networking and showcase events
    6. Design and deliver a sector-wide diversity action plan
    7. Link and collaborate with the youth circus sector and those working in circus education.


  • Circus Snapshot Cards

  • Circus Snapshot Data

  • Further reading

    In 2018 the European Union (EU) published a report on the state of the circus sector in the EU. The study was intended as a legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and followed on from research into the sector commissioned by the European Parliament in 2003.

    The situation of circus in the EU Member States

    Circostrada, the European Network for Circus and Street Arts, has published the results of the survey it launched to measure and report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic within the circus and street arts sectors. Find out more here.

    Circuit – the Equity Circus Network – exists to connect circus artists and practitioners in the UK to create better working conditions within the industry. They are publishing a weekly bulletin to keep the circus sector updated and it’s full of very useful information. Check it out here.

  • Slow Thinking | Circus Snapshot | Revised Missions

    On 29th July, over 100 representatives from the sector gathered together through Upswing’s Slow Thinking forum to discuss the 7 Missions that emerged from the Circus Snapshot research.

    A summary of the conversations along with the 8 Revised Missions can be found in the side bar on this page. The next steps are to shape the conversations into deeper discussions and to find actions to take forward to strengthen the circus sector across its many facets.

    Artists, producers, promoters, educators, marketing professionals and those working in PR who either work in or are interested in the circus sector and committed to its development are invited to register to join a Mission Working Party or Sector Support Group. We are also looking for people to nominate themselves as Conveners to take responsibility for organising and delivery Zoom meetings, ensuring minutes are taken and shared and for liaising with the central communication hub.

    You can register here.