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ISACS Member - Spraoi
ISACS Member - Spraoi St Patrick's Parade 2017 | Photographer Graham Cullen
12 minutes reading time (2310 words)

‘EXplore17’ – Seminar on Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle | Everything you wanted to know.

header Explore17

If you missed Explore 17 in April, well that is a pity, because you missed a wealth of information that was shared, exchanged and explored from with and between audience, speakers and participants. But fear not, we will give you a super speedy run through here and if you still need to know more then just go to our Facebook page and you can watch the whole day on our #Xplore17 live feed stream videos right there.

ISACS 2016-2017 overview and plans

First up Lucy Medlycott presented an overview report on all of ISACS activities in 2016 which you can read all about on their Annual Report2016 right here. She also updated us on plans for 2017.

EXplore17 ISACS review 16 17

Click on the image above to see Lucy's presentation giving you a taste of all that ISACS has in the pipeline, everything from the DELVE programme to Networking events, seminars, training programmes, international focus and more.


TV Honan presented a heartwarming account of ‘Spraoi 25 years: Then and Now’

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 59 TV Honan Spraoi

TV spoke about Audience and how Street arts is one of the few art forms where the audience is considered right from the beginning. Audience are part and parcel of the making of the work ‘In other art forms, often the first time the audience is considered is when you have to sell something, in street arts it is different.’

TV explained how, inspired by other festivals’ works in different cities, the idea of Spraoi for Waterford was born. Spraoi had to adapt to its audience, from the very outset. The festival is a homemade festival, where every aspect and element is locally made. 

When questioning why they do what they do TV explained very simply and poignantly ‘To bring joy.’


View Spraoi ISACS profile | www.spraoi.com

Dr Niamh Nic Ghabhann: presented ‘Drawing the Crowd: Audience Research Focus’ – A project by ISACS & the Irish World Academy

 EXplore2017 seminar ISACS Q n A Niamh NicGhabhann

Niamh explained the process of gathering audience research, and the steps that ISACS and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance have taken in order to map same for this sector. There is a sea change required around the necessity for gathering of statistics and metrics for the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland. In order to be valued and supported we need to provide data to evidence the work.


Niamh highlighted the key characteristics of Street Arts that are: Public, Free and deeply Inclusive that need to be taken into account in the measurements’ strategy and that these maps well onto policy objectives very strongly. With these characteristics in mind, it is more challenging to communicate data to arts & culture institutions and easier to focus only on providing statistics for maintaining funding.


For Niamh, it is necessary to research in ways that are also useful for the sector’s future. Street Arts can be described as an art form of urban animation and the animation of urban spaces, with the aim to provide an experience for the audience. Therefore its study needs a specific methodology. A tripartite model is needed in order to evaluate these art forms: aesthetic, social and environmental.

Niamh took us through the questions that audiences, artists and targeted groups need to be asked, to produce a clear and global vision of the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland. 

Open Newsround:

Paddy Waters

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 101Paddy Waters

Paddy Waters is a contemporary circus performer, who combines theatre and clowning with high-level circus skills. He introduces himself as a professional giggler.


Paddy Waters specialised in Physical Theatre, Juggling and Trick bicycle at the Circomedia and National Centre of Circus Arts in the UK. He also attended Ecole Philippe Gaulier for a duration of 2 years, to develop his clowning and overall performance ability. He has since travelled the world with his tricks, bicycles and juggling and clowning shows.
He loves to engage audiences with joyful failures and superhuman spectacles.


View Paddy’s ISACS profile | www.paddywaters.com


Paddy offered free professional mentoring and support as an artistic director to ISACS artists.

If you have an idea and need support, get in touch: paddywaters@gmail.com

Ulla Hokkanen: Galway Community Circus

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS Ulla Hokkanen GALWAY community circusUlla Hokkanen is Galway Community Circus director.  Galway Community Circus offers a comprehensive range of regular training, specialised workshops and outreach programmes for children, young people and adults.

View GCC ISACS Profilewww.galwaycommunitycircus.com


Ulla presented:

 'Wires Crossed - A Galway 2020 project involving international partnerships and training in funambulism: high wire walking with the balancing pole. Teaching people of all ages and all skills.'


Wires Crossed is a 4-year project set to highlight the importance of physical and mental health, by bringing the dynamic art of funambulism to all corners of Europe. Galway Community Circus, in partnership with nine European youth and social circus schools, will train people of all ages and backgrounds to walk the tight wire. Participants will experience funambulism’s empowering and transformative effect, and together will cross wires to foster healthier communities as we strive toward a more balanced Europe.

This ambitious and inclusive project will culminate in a major funambulism event in Galway in 2020, where 400 funambulists from all around Europe will cross the River Corrib together. Wires Crossed runs from 2017-2020 and beyond.


There are two call-outs for Circus trainers and participants related to the project. Keep an eye for the next call-out for participants under the age of thirty years old.

Get in touch with www.galwaycommunitycircus.com for more information.


Darragh McLoughlin: Squarehead Productions

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 112 Squarehead Productions

Squarehead Productions was born from an interdisciplinary cross-over project created in 2012 by Darragh McLoughlin and Elena Lydia Kreusch, in order to create situations generating not only shows but also new knowledge by pushing the boundaries of collaborations rather than production-based knowledge.


View Squarehead Productions ISACS profile | www.squareheadsproductions.com


While teaching and creating shows, the company has also created residencies in 10 countries and aims to build a large research network. 

Squarehead Productions has also created two types of artistic research laboratories:

Come Wander With Me: On September 26-27th, 2015, Squarehead Productions organised an Experimental (Performance) Art Trail in Clonakilty, West Cork. 'Come Wander With Me' was the first edition of a new model of performance experiments, aiming to bring artists of all disciplines together and to create a completely new audience experience. They created 128 performances in 2 days.


Squarelabs: The company collaborates with artists and academics in testing new ways of practice under the name of Squarelabs. The aim of the labs is to produce new knowledge around performance techniques and artist-audience relationships. Squarelabs is a laboratory environment aiming to create new networks and new knowledge by working with Irish artists in Ireland and abroad. The project's experiments will be designed to collaboratively rethink creation methods within the circus context, to develop new work practices and to challenge artists' existing concepts as well as the audience's role in the performance-experience. While circus will be the medium used to conduct this research, the lab’s aim is to create knowledge that will be relevant and accessible across all performing arts.

Squarelabs is hosting a call-out, to create a lab environment for circus artists in Ireland.

Call-out for applicants Lab 1 | Deadline: 22nd May

Irish Aerial Creation Centre

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 126Irish Aerial Creation Centre


The Irish Aerial Creation Centre is Ireland’s first purpose-fitted space for aerial dance. It is a unique addition to the cultural fabric of Limerick and Clare. It is the home to Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company and other world-class aerialists, providing a centre for the creation and education of aerial dance. Annette Clarke, Irish Aerial Creation Centre General Manager and Chantal Mc Cormick – Artistic director of Fidget Feet, Irish Aerial Dance Fest and IACC took us through the centre's origins and future projects.


View IACC ISACS profilewww.irishaerialcreationcentre.com


In 2011, Fidget Feet were awarded funding from the LEADER Regional Development Programme to conduct a feasibility study on the project. This was followed by seed funding from the Arthur Guinness Project Awards in 2013, to support the centre’s planning and development.

The Irish Aerial Creation Centre received the first ever Capital funding for circus infrastructure through the Irish government, Creative Ireland, MacManus fund and Limerick City Council for the development of a permanent National Aerial Creation Centre. The centre is currently hosting an all year round Professional programmes & Residencies for artists. Their new building is in the planning stages aiming to be hosting them in 2019/2020. The aim is to host the programmes and residencies in the new building as of 2019/2020 (now in the planning stage).



Current residencies:

Clear Sky Creative Residency - Irish Aerial Creation Centre
The Unlocked Residencies - Irish Aerial Creation Centre

Creative intensive programme:

From November 27th to December 16th, 2017A three-week creative intensive training on aerial technique and creativity. 

Current technical intensive training options:

July 14th, 15th and 16th - Ana Prada 3-day Technical Intensive training
September 4th -9th - Vertical Dance Intensive training with Wanda Moretti
October 14th and 15th- Rope and Fabric Technical Intensive training with Will Davis and Alfa Mar

Visit their website for more information on same.

Henrik Gard

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 127 Henrik Gard Circomara

Circomara is an Ireland-based circus company specialising in Acrobatics and Physical Comedy. In 2015, the international artist Henrik Gard, originally from Sweden, was chosen for NEST (New Emerging Street Talents): he created the solo show ‘Shipwrecked’. Later that year, he created and performed his sailing circus show ‘Way of the Coconut’ at the Dublin Fringe festival. In 2016, he worked with renowned Irish circus companies, such as Fanzini Productions and Tumble Circus.


Watch the Way of the Coconut




View Circomara ISACS profile | www.circomara.com



Henrik of Circomara presented a new project in progress: a duo act called Craicrobats with Tony Mahon of gentlemen circus artists which they aim to present and perform all around Ireland soon.

Mike Leahy

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 131Mike Leahy Spraoi Waterford

Mike Leahy from Spraoi announced the 2017 N.E.S.T programme in partnership with ISACS. N.E.S.T is a mentoring initiative, offering new emerging street artists the opportunity to develop new work and to present it to an audience in a nurturing environment. It heightens the artists’ profile among programmers - national and international, and provides on-going mentoring, support and guidance from N.E.S.T partners. NEST17 offers the opportunity for new emerging street artists to perform at the Waterford Spraoi Festival.

Check this year’s Spraoi programme here.


View Spraoi ISACS profile | www.spraoi.com


In addition that Mike Leahy informed that the Garter Lane Arts centre in Waterford hosts: ‘A Little Room’, which is a free creation space artists in Waterford city that artists can use for a duration of four weeks.



Kim McCafferty

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 132 Kim McCaffertyKim is involved with both the National Circus Festival of Ireland (or the National Festival of ‘craic’ as she likes to call it) and Fanzini Productions. She highlighted the individualities for both companies. 


National Circus Festival of Ireland

National Circus Festival of Ireland will celebrate its 16th edition this November.
One of the new programmes is called ‘5x5’. Five companies or performers will be invited to give a five-minute showcase to the audience. The festival is also calling out for artists to submit acts for the programme.

View National Circus Festival of Ireland's ISACS profilewww.circusfestival.ie 


Fanzini Productions

After winning the Arts Council’s 2015 project award, Fanzini Productions created a 5 persons-show Circus Jukebox in 2016. They are currently touring in Ireland (Dingle /Drogheda / Tipperary this May) and internationally this summer (Austria and Germany to Europe in July-August).

View Fanzini Productions' ISACS profilefanzini.ie

Ray Yeates, Dublin City Council: ‘Local Authorities, Street Arts, Circus & spectacle: Working together’

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 146 Ray Yeates Dublin City Council

Ray described the dual role of an Arts Officer as a statutory role and secondly as a developmental role. He talked about how transitioning from Tasks to Projects to Partnerships is entirely new to the arts community and to the government. Creative Ireland is an attempt to create the partnership space in between them.

He discussed the deficit areas in the arts and the importance of identifying these in order to work out ways to address them, identifying that money is often one and handing out this pithy reminder: ’People who ask for money usually get advice, whereas those who ask for advice often get money.’

Gracie Marshall: Circus here and there and why I keep coming home

EXplore2017 seminar ISACS 150 Gracie Marshall Circus FactoryGracie has travelled and bounced around the world for some time now training with National Centre for circus arts London, in Australia and more recently in the Beijing international circus school. Gracie believes firmly in going away to experience, to be inspired and in coming back to develop and connect and process the experience with her friends and colleagues in the Circus Factory, Cork Teaching, sharing, giving back to her roots and then replenishing her own soul once more.


View Gracie's ISACS profile 



She believed her experiences training abroad have enriched the performer she is today. She also highlighted cultural training differences in different countries and what she gained from them. For her, her training in Australia compensated a lack of tricks and skills based training in Ireland and she was inspired by the intensive 6am-9pm training in China. However, when she came back to Ireland and reconnected with the national scene, going to conventions and meeting her peers, she was delighted to see how the Irish scene is booming with talents and projects.




We will wrap up #Explore17 with these thought-provoking words from Ray Yeates:
‘The further you go into the future, the more ambiguity you can tolerate in the present.’

Series of pictures from the events can be found on our website here and Facebook here.

Enjoy the videos!

Charlotte Haffner and Lucy Medlycott



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Irish Street Arts Circus and Spectacle Network

Irish Theatre Institute, 17 Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
00 353 (0)87 0541812 info@isacs.ie
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