Galway Community Circus (GCC) has appointed Lynn Carroll as its new Executive Director. Director of CircusWorks and the president of the European Youth Circus Organisation (EYCO), Lynn is an internationally renowned expert in circus and education. Throughout her career, Lynn has performed globally as a multi-disciplined circus artist and has been at the forefront of developing the UK youth circus sector for nearly 40 years.

Lynn said, “I am very excited to be joining the fantastic team at Galway Community Circus! I first encountered GCC as part of the Celtic Youth Exchanges in 2011 and 2012 in my work at NoFit State Circus. Meeting the team and young people through these and subsequent projects has always been an absolute pleasure. It has always been clear that GCC has strong values, and places young people at the heart of its work and decision-making process.”

For 40 years, Lynn has witnessed first-hand the effect that learning circus can have on a young person’s life. As a non-competitive, teamwork-orientated form of exercise, circus is uniquely accessible. Young people who engage with circus not only improve their physical abilities and learn new skills – they gain an art form, a mode of self-expression, and often, since so much of circus is rooted in teamwork and trust, a community. They discover a world in which they can be whoever they want to be – whether they want to clown around or fly.

Lynn said, “I have been hugely impressed with GCC’s journey and the breadth and scale of the work it has undertaken. It has gained an impressive international reputation through its work with the Caravan International Network for Youth and Social Circus, and its large-scale projects Wires Crossed and LifeLine. To step in at this point in the journey is an honour. I’d like to acknowledge the amazing job my predecessor, Ulla Hokkanen, has done along with the rest of the team in making GCC the success story it is today, establishing it as a grassroots organisation with a respected national and international reputation. GCC’s plans are ambitious and exciting, and I can’t wait to start working with the team to make them a reality.”

Ian Walsh, Chair of Galway Community Circus Board of Directors, said, “We are very excited to welcome Lynn into her new role knowing the experience, innovation and passion she will bring. We are looking forward to her continuing to implement our strategic plan and finding new opportunities for Galway Community Circus as the youth circus sector continues to grow in Ireland.”

Lynn’s career started in 1982 when she worked with the Manchester Playbus, an organisation that brought opportunities to play to children in deprived communities in the Manchester area. During this time, she took Reg Bolton’s Suitcase Circus course, a six-day intensive in basic circus skills, which changed the course of her life. Over the next few years, Lynn set up Manchester Community Circus and performed at The Haçienda, Manchester. She then went on to study at the newly opened Fool Time in Bristol – Britain’s first permanent full-time school for professional circus training, which would later evolve into Circomedia.

By the late 1980s, Lynn was performing her way across Europe and Australia as a solo performer. Lynn toured prolifically throughout the 1990s and 2000s, performing with Circus Hazzard in Spain, Skinning the Cat in Germany and completing four international tours and five site-specific shows with NoFit State Circus. She also founded her own aerial, fire and theatre outdoor performance company, Chimaera, which toured internationally in the 1990s and performed extensively as a solo artist, including at the Millennium Dome.

Throughout her performing career, Lynn continued to organise and teach youth and community circus and tutor professional artists. In 2000, she became Head of Youth Circus at Circus Space (now the National Centre for Circus Arts) in London. In this role, she transformed the youth circus department from a small class of 25 participants to a programme that taught more than 200 young people weekly. Around the same time, Lynn also set up and ran Woodberry Down Youth Circus and Shoreditch Youth Circus.

Lynn later became the head of NoFit State Circus’s community and education programme. In this role, she ran their youth circus, adult classes, outreach workshops, trainee programme, and professional agency. In 2011, Lynn became a founding member of the UK Youth Circus Network, which would later become CircusWorks. In 2012 she became a board member of EYCO, and has since worked with them to create 10 major projects, bringing circus practitioners together from 13 countries to share experiences, network, and develop training resources. In 2014, Lynn became the Director of CircusWorks, where she worked tirelessly to expand and improve the UK youth circus sector so that every child will one day have the chance to learn circus.

As Executive Director of Galway Community Circus, Lynn will provide artistic and strategic leadership and drive the organisation’s vision of a future in which play, care and creativity are nurtured through circus education accessible to ever child in Ireland.