Take a moment with us to reflect on everything that the ISACS Network has achieved in 2023.

Our vision is to be a leading example of an artist-first members network that supports and grows Ireland’s street, circus, and spectacle art forms.

Our mission is to celebrate our artforms, advocate for the policy and practical changes that will allow our artforms to flourish, grow our membership and sustain our organisation.

Below is a series of activity highlights which we delivered under our 4 main Strategic pillars – Celebrate, Grow, Advocate and Sustain.

Before going into details, we would like to reiterate that in 2023, we continued to:

  • nurture relationships on a national and international scale,
  • supported our membership across various issues and strove for a genuinely inclusive community that connects and cares for each other and the development of our art forms.
  • lauded ambitious actions and thinking, growing determined, proud, confident and resilient behaviour across and between our membership.
  • endeavoured to encourage and empower our members in their journeys, professional development, and creativity.

How?

Grow –  Artistic Development Programmes

4 DELVE Bursaries

We were delighted to bring back our DELVE (Discover, Explore, Learn, Visualise and Engage) programme – which aims to support artists experiencing and being inspired by art through various festivals and programmes throughout Ireland.

We went, saw, watched, listened, learned and connected with art and art makers, and we got inspired. This year’s DELVE involved 10 artists, and with them, we visited the following Festivals:

Residencies

ISACS delivers four flagship artform residency programmes that we have been developing in partnership over the years: Jumpstart, Áras Éanna, LIFT, and NEST.

JumpStart

In 2023, we were delighted to present the second edition of the JumpStart Residency.

This is a two year programme – the first year is focused on research and Development, and the second year on bringing work to fruition. The emerging ISACS artist selected in 2023/24 is Ashton.

This programme is developed in partnership with the Earagail Arts Festival, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, and Fidget Feet Irish Aerial Dance Festival and is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

ISACS & Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne Residency

The ISACS & Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne Arts Centre partnered again this year to bring back this fantastic Residency, our fourth programme on the island of Inis Oírr since 2019 – when we established the first edition as part of the FRESH STREET#3 International Seminar (organised with Circostrada Network for Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture).

The 2023 Residency gave ISACS artist Nicola Moran, the opportunity to live and create for one month on the Island of Inis Oírr, Co. Galway, and it was supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

LIFT

The ISACS Network partnered again with Wexford Arts Centre to deliver the LIFTProgramme. This residency offers mentoring and creation space for solo/duo ground-based circus artists via an open-call. LIFT is supported by County Wexford Arts Department, Wexford County Council and Arts Council Ireland.

The 2023 selected artist was  Barry Cahill.

N.E.S.T.

The NEST Programme (New Emerging Street Talent) is an initiative developed by SPRAOI Festival in association with the ISACS Network, which aims to mentor and assist Irish street artists to develop new works.

N.E.S.T. does not aim to originate new works, but rather to assist and advance work-in-progress projects to the public performance level.

Over the last 2 years, a new dimension was added to the existing N.E.S.T. process. Spraoi Festival has joined with Green Man Festival (Wales), Out There Festival (England) and SURGE Festival (Scotland) to create the Four Nations artists’ exchange programme. In 2023, the selected artists were Jazzville Productions and  Those two Idiots with Edaein Samuels & Peter Moran performing at all four festivals.

 

Bursary Awards

Every year, ISACS provides bursary awards for ISACS members to attend Training programmes in Ireland and abroad to work with Internationally renowned Street Arts and Circus artists. In 2023, these opportunities were created to allow our members to participate in the SPASA programme – Catalunya – and in the Where Dance Meets Street initiative – Wexford.

SPASA

We were delighted to bring back the exciting bursary opportunity for one ISACS member – Liza Cox  – to attend a 2 week street arts training programme in Spain at SPASA23.

We were also delighted that ISACS members Alex Herring and Edaein Samuels attended Spasa independently for their own professional development.

 

Where Dance Meets Street

In May, the ISACS Network and SpringMoves Dance Festival presented Where Dance meets Street in partnership with Wexford County Council, The Arts Council of Ireland and the National Opera House.

This year we provided three bursaries for ISACS artists to attend –  Edaein Samuels ArtistFi Flo Hoops and Jude O Neill.

Stefan Sing Masterclass

Back in March, In Your Space Circus (NI) presented a 5-day Masterclass with Stefan Sing on Deep Juggling. ISACS had the pleasure of offering ISACS member Finn Jesch a bursary – kindly funded by the Arts Council of Ireland – to attend this incredible learning opportunity.

ISACS Autumn Training Session

We delivered a packed Autumn Programme of  Free Online Training Opportunities for ISACS Members.

Topics included a wide range of topics emerged from the results of our Annual membership survey – from “Pay the Artist Policy &  How to Establish the Economic Value of Your Art” to “Identifying National & International Partners – Artistic Collaborations”,  “Generating Alternative Income in the Arts”,  “Writing Funding Applications – Local, National, and International touring”, “Safe to Create”, and Digital Marketing.

87 Members attended, 5 Members co-delivered five sessions paired with 5 National bodies.

Our Training programme is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland. The recording of our training sessions are available here→

 

Hot Desk at ISACS HQ

We also hosted 11 ISACS Members on our Hot Desk Mentoring programme this year – in early 2023 Nora Kelly Lester, Aoife Raleigh, Ria Corcoran, Aoife Nyhan Kavanagh  – and throughout the year: Angelica SantanderBecci WhelanEmer GreenfordEdaein Samuels, Alison Martin & Liza Cox, Juley Ann Collins, and Juliet and Fadi Zmorrod from Doulab for Circus and Dance.

This programme is aimed towards members who are looking for space and time to carry out research, project planning, funding and grant applications. In addition, ISACS offers mentoring support, helping the HotDeskers to explore their ideas, look for the support avenues available and take the next steps in their journey.

Celebrate, Advocate & Grow

National and International Partnerships

In 2023, ISACS also maintained & delivered a strong National and international outlook & presence. We believe strongly in the importance of nurturing relations & have embedded a number of initiatives into our work.

Circus Explored

At the beginning of the year, we were amid our nationwide Circus Explored initiative, distributing 4,000 spinning plates to every library in Ireland- to celebrate #cruinniúnanóg – and honouring the memory of the lateIrish world record-holding plate spinner David Spathaky.

Circus Explored was supported by the Creative Ireland Programme in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, as well as under the Shared Island initiative. It was delivered in partnership with Circus Factory CorkCloughjordan Circus ClubDublin Circus ProjectGalway Community CircusCircusful in Belfast, and In Your Space in Derry.

ISACS honoured with CARA Award by Failte Ireland

The ISACS Network in 2023 was also recognised by Fáilte Ireland for our work on FRESH STREET#3 – International Seminar presented in partnership with Circostrada and in collaboration with Galway 2020 – the European Capital of Culture. We were delighted to be among the 104 conference ambassadors celebrated at the CARA Awards. Read all about it here→

ISACS Pro Programmes

The ISACS Network in 2023 had the pleasure of hosting three ISACS Pro Programmes.

Explore and AGM

The first was our Explore and AGM event, held in May at Dance Ireland – Dublin. We were delighted to welcome our members and art form practitioners, organisations, and institutions to meet and connect. We had an exceptional lineup of guest speakers, including Director of The Arts Council of Ireland – Maureen Kennelly; Co-Artistic Director of  LUXE – Mark Hill & Mandy Blinco; Head of Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle – Laura Ivers; and Director of Irish Theatre Institute – Niamh O’ Donnell.

ISACS at Spraoi

The second ISACS Pro Programme occurred at Spraoi International Street Arts Festival in August. The initiative in Waterford includedPitch,  StreetTalk & a Spraoi Studio visit – we also provided two emerging ISACS artists with the DELVE bursary.ISACS Artists participating at PITCH were – Elysia McMullen, Kathleen Doherty,Angelique Ross, Elisa Gallo Rosso, Jazzville ProductionsCurious StateEdaein Samuels & Peter Moran a.k.a. Those two idiots.

With support from Culture Ireland, we invited 12 International Programmers and Festival makers who came to Ireland to meet and engage with the Irish Street and Circus Artists.

 

ISACS at National Circus Festival of Ireland

In November, the final and third ISACS Pro Programme occurred in Tralee at the National Circus Festival of Ireland. It included our SHARE Open Forum and, once more, thanks to support from Culture Ireland, we invited 5 International Programmers and Festival makers who came to Ireland to meet and engage with the Irish Street and Circus Artists performing at the Festival and participating in SHARE. ISACS artists sharing their projects and ideas at our Open Forum were Brenda Long, Becca Clayton and Ulla Hokkanen from Galway Community CircusChristopher McAuley, Kath Gorman & Ciara O Mahony from Promenade Ireland, Cormac Mohally from Circus Factory Cork,  Aoife Raleigh from Dublin Circus Project, Aisling Ní Cheallaigh, Ali Stanger from Cikada Circus.

With our International guests, we opened the door for meaningful connections in both Waterford and Tralee. New collaborations to bring ISACS artists to perform around Europe in 2024 are currently being developed.

POP – Planning for Outdoor Performance

We partnered on the Planning for Outdoors Performance Programme with 5 Local Authority Arts Offices – Roscommon County Council– lead partner, Cork City Council, Kerry County Council, Laois County Council and Tipperary County Council – and National Resource Organisations – Poetry Ireland / Éigse Éireann, Music Network and Theatre Forum. Management services are provided by Promenade Ireland.

POP, is supported through the Invitation to Collaboration scheme by The Arts Council of Ireland.

The Programme was managed by Promenade Ireland, there were internal consultancy and training sessions delivered, involving our Director Lucy Medlycott – whom, on October 3rd, delivered a webinar on the History of Outdoor Arts in Ireland. The recording is available here→

Future Producers

The Future Producers 2023 programme is led by Fidget Feet in collaboration with Promenade, Split Second (UK), National Circus Festival of Ireland, and Loosysmokes, with funding from the Arts Council’s Capacity Building Support Scheme.

This year, at the National Circus Festival of Ireland, ISACS partnered with Fidget Feet to present a Future Producers event – offering 1-on-1 mentoring sessions, round table discussions and talks about our sector.

ISACS Presence at Events

We attended the following festivals/arts events among others:

  • Saint Patrick Festival in Dublin
  • Cairde Arts Festival to meet PASSAGE·Festival – international street theatre in Helsingør, Oerol Terschelling, Inside Out Dorset, Cairde Arts Festival, Twisted Lane Productions and Promenade Ireland partnering in a European Festival Fund Residency
  • Green Man Festival in Wales
  • Dublin Fringe Festival to support 7 ISACS artists who were performing
  • Macnas Cnámha na Loba Samhain Parade
  • Launch of In Your Space Circus’s new home in Derry – They were recently successful in their application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland to start the process of transforming the Old Cathedral School into a circus arts creation space for all.

Conferences and Training:

  • Safe to Create Training on Active Bystander for Leaders & Board Members
  • Theatre Forum Waterford Gathering at Theatre Royal Waterford
  • Business to Arts Awards to support ISACS member Tom Meskell running to be awarded
  • Presentation of the Wexford County Council Arts Plan 2023-27
  • Business to Arts Leadership Forum
  • ‘Bridging the Gap – Access and Inclusion to the Arts’ by Creative Europe Desk Ireland – Culture Office.
  •  Shared Island Dialogues by the Government of Ireland
  • The Arts Council’s Next Generation Artists’ Symposium, presented with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
  • The Dublin Book Festival, for the launch of Winter Paper Vol. 9 – The book features a contribution by Peter Murphy & Caolán Barron ‘Circus Stories’ with interviews with Lucy Medlycott, Tara Gerbola Circus Gerbola, David Duffy & Charles O’Brien.

Were guest speakers at:

  • ‘Making Connections: the Value of European Networks’ presented by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon & Creative Europe Desk Ireland – Culture Office.
  • National Circus Festival of Ireland – launch of their new Strategic Plan
  • The Bealtaine Gathering 2023,
  • Arts Council Festival Makers Conference
  • Facilitated a session on Circus professional development in Ireland as part of Boost – a new 3-month course for emerging Circus Artists presented by Dublin Circus Project

Further ISACS International Presence

ISACS, in 2023, also continues to be a core member of the Circostrada Network – this allows us to stay informed & aware of international issues & opportunities both across Europe & within the UK. We also partner on several international residencies & exchanges as follows:

  • We nurtured our relationship with the Institut d’Estudis Balearic, Circaire, and Centre d’Investigació Escènica – with whom we launched in November 2023 an open call to deliver an Irish Focus within the Ciclop Festival 2024.
  • The ISACS Network are also delighted to partner with Earagail Arts Festival, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, and Fira Tàrrega to present a new, exciting International Residency supported by the Arts Council of Ireland’s International Residency Investment Scheme.ISACS artists Rob Heaslip and Kristyn Fontanella, who focus on creating work in outdoor spaces, will be working on a collaborative programme over the next 12 months with Catalan artists Joan Català and Kamchatka to develop their artistic practice in an international exchange taking place in Catalunya, Sligo, and Donegal over 2024.

We have also attended the following International events:

  • Outdoor Arts UK Conference 2023: ‘Reconnect’ in Bradford.
  • Circostrada’s AGM Peculiar Families Festival / Festival neobičnih obitelji in Split, Croatia,
  • Fira Tàrrega – with over 20 Irish delegates, hosting a Positioning Ireland event to talk about how to collaborate with street and circus artists of Ireland.
  • Ciclop Festival in Mallorca – organised by Centre d’Investigació Escènica,
  •  Fresh 2023 – organised by Circostrada and Artcena in Paris.
  • Cittá di Circo in Bologna, Italy

Contributed to European Publications such as:

Advocacy campaigns

Insurance & Pre Budget Campaign

Sustain

In 2023, ISACS also enhanced its human capacity through increased and diversified funding that enabled us to grow the core team to 3 full time roles and a temporary part-time Members Engagement Officer – Brendan Fahy.

In addition, we worked with over 25 freelancers throughout the year.

Brendan engaged 36 ISACS members in 1-1 Member meetings over 12 weeks, this is a key action which guarantees that ISACS remains an Artists first organisation.