Sharing Knowledge in the European Circus and Street Arts Field
Photo Katarina Ståhl

CASA is a new European development program for professionals in the contemporary circus and street arts field. The aim is knowledge sharing and international cooperation with a special focus on marketing and audience development. Subtopia is one of five partners in the project and last week ten professionals from around Europe got an insight into the Swedish circus and street arts field by attending a trip hosted by Subtopia. This was the first of five trips, one to each partner country: Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Spain and Czech Republic.

I met up with John Ellingsworth, a journalist who will be documenting the whole project by making a series of multimedia guides covering the professional contemporary circus and street arts fields in each country. The guides will be published online at the beginning of 2017. Apart from the guides and the trips the CASA project will also organise ten workshops on marketing and audience development.

I ask John what he thinks the participants will take home from the trip?

– You can see the benefits of a trip like this in both the short and the long-term. First of all, on a very simple level, it’s a meeting of minds: ten people from around Europe, who mostly don’t know each other, spend a week together on a trip that takes them to meet experts from organisations like Cirkus Cirkör and the Swedish Art Council. Those connections lead to ideas and activities – perhaps immediately, perhaps far in the future. But the CASA project also has a practical focus. One talk that really impressed everyone came from Thorsten Andreassen, who runs Stockholm Street Festival. Because the festival didn’t have much money at the start they had to market on a budget. They had a big metal stencil of the festival logo welded, then crept out at night, laid it on the white stripes of zebra crossings, and washed the stripes with a high-pressure water hose. Because the walkway was so dirty they got this vibrant white Stockholm Street Festival sign. All the CASA participants made notes at that moment!

John concludes the interview by describing three transversal themes that he has seen during the week in Stockholm. First, that there’s been a shift in marketing and communication towards networked systems, particularly through social media. Second, instead of spending money on PR and big newspaper ads to ensure tickets sales, artists and presenters now have to produce continuous marketing content for many different platforms. Finally, John says that it is necessary to adapt:

– Everybody that I spoke to said something along the lines of “We don’t know how it’s going to be in a few years, it’s changing really quickly.” These are people who are experts in their field, heading well-resourced organisations, and yet there is this feeling of uncertainty. You just have to change all the time to meet whatever the conditions are.

/Elin Borrie

CASA partner organisations:

CASA is supported by The Swedish Arts Council and European Union Creative Europe Programme