Big Steps Toward the Future: The Caravan Network Recaps 2022 - CircusTalk

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Big Steps Toward the Future: The Caravan Network Recaps 2022

For leaders, practitioners, and friends of youth circus projects throughout the world, the year 2022 was both a return to normalcy and a time of progress for the social circus movement. This special message from the Caravan Network tells us what they’ve been up to in the last year and what they have planned going forward.

2022 was a year full of changes, excitement, and big steps toward our goals for the future of the Caravan Network. We finished the year having completed three big projects, and with an experienced team of three now working in the offices in Brussels, we have high expectations for 2023.

We are hugely proud of all our Members and Friends for all the fantastic work they have done around the world to engage with young people and those in challenging situations, helping them find joy and meaning through the creative art of circus. We are continually impressed by the quality of work they do, and will continue to support and share their work with our wider community.

Below you will find more details about some of the activities that took place during our projects and events in 2022 that continue to connect and empower our organisations and our young people. We are committed to continuing this legacy of work, strengthening our partnerships and building new ones around the world with other like-minded organisations.

Let us take you through some key moments of the last year for the Caravan Network.

Caravan General Assembly meeting, Prague, November 2022

At the end of March, our development manager Camille Henry left the network in search of new opportunities, and in May, Simona De Lisi joined the team to lead the network into this next chapter. We are truly thankful for all the fantastic work that Camille did for us in the two years she led the network. In her stead, Simona has done a great job of picking up where Camille left off and reacted quickly to the needs of the network. In line with our European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) operating grant, in September we recruited Ana-Elisa Rossini as our new Administrative Assistant. We are delighted to expand the Caravan team to incorporate this role and look forward to working together to better implement all the elements of our current strategic plan.

In November, we were able to gather 35 participants from across our extended network of circus schools together in Prague for our General Assembly. This was the first opportunity since the pandemic for the network to meet in person and discuss how the year went and how to approach the coming years. It was a fantastic moment of family and community, driven by the shared desire to make the world a better place using circus arts.

Completed Projects

Circus ++

Multiplier event, Tampere University

Sorin Sirkus and Tampere University hosted us in June for the multiplier event for the Circus++ Project. After years of us working together online to develop the core curriculum for a university-level Social Circus Trainer program, it was wonderful to finally gather all the project partners in one place and share the results. Take a look at the final product here. This Core Curriculum will begin being taught at our three partner universities in the years to come; keep an eye out for updates.

Project Partners:
Sorin Sirkus and Tampere University (Finland), Galway Community Circus and NUI Galway (Ireland), Cirkus Cirkör and Stockholm University of the Arts (Sweden), Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde (France), CIRQUEON (Czech Republic).

Circus Overseas

A Circus Overseas session

We were able to implement all four of the Circus Overseas modules between April and September 2022. This project was originally accepted in 2019, and was postponed until 2022! Here are the themes, locations, hosts, and dates of each of the four training activities:

  1. Circus Arts Technical Development | South Africa | Zip Zap | 6-11 April
  2. Managing and Leading Youth Circus Organisations | Cambodia | Phare | 25-30 May
  3. Pedagogy and the Act of Teaching | Italy | Altro Circo | 26-31 July
  4. Directing and Staging Circus | France |Le plus petit cirque du Monde | 19-24 Sept

We also hosted midterm and conclusion meetings at the Ecole de Cirque de Bruxelles in Belgium, as well as the multiplier event, where we shared the toolkits developed during each of the modules with relevant stakeholders. You can find all four of the toolkits from each module on our website here. We encourage you to download and print any of the toolkits that may be useful to your organization.

Project Partners:
Zip Zap, Phare Ponleu Selpak, Altro Circo (Italy), Le Plus Petit Cirque de Monde, Sirkus Magenta (Finland), the Palestinian Circus School.

Circus as an Intercultural Encounter (CIE)

As we added the final touches to the guidebook for working with circus as a tool for social inclusion and empowering migrants and refugees, the CIE team developed a pilot training program which took place in Luxembourg at Zaltimbanq in July, where 18 Participants from the seven partner countries embarked on a journey of intercultural dialogue and sensitivity guided by trainers from Altro Circo. We finished out the project at the end of August with an online conclusion meeting, and the guidebook has also since been completed.

Have a look at and download the guidebook here, and please use it to improve your methods for working with intercultural groups.

Project Partners:
Zaltimbanq (Luxembourg), Sirkus Magenta, Circusplaneet (Belgium), the Palestinian Circus School, Altro Circo, Circus Fuskabo (Slovenia), University College Dublin (Ireland)

Ongoing Projects

Circus Trans-Formation (CTF) ADVANCED

CTF Advanced meeting, Tampere

We have also launched a brand-new project funded by Erasmus+ and led by Sorin Sirkus: CTF ADVANCED, which aims to develop and enhance our CTF social circus training program by strengthening the network with partners from social and youth work in order to disseminate the knowledge gained in previous training programs and enable active communication between the fields of circus art, social work, and youth work.

One of the goals of the project is to evaluate CTF programs 4 to 6 using the data collected through feedback and our interviews with trainers and organisers. The research part of the project is developed by a team of three researchers, Ilaria Bessone, Heta Mulari, and Ian Walsh, in collaboration with the project partners. The opening meeting was held in Tampere, Finland, in September, and the first of the four workshops was held in Prague in November.

Project Partners:
Sorin Sirkus, CIRQUEON, Cirkus Cirkör, Galway Community Circus, Altro Circo.

What About Youth? (W.A.Y) (previously the Youth Advisory Group)

The W.A.Y team

Last year we were able to host a three-day meeting of the former Caravan Youth Advisory Group, which is the spearhead of our youth empowerment and leadership strategy. The meeting focused on figuring out a group identity and proposing concrete ideas and suggestions for the future direction of the Caravan Network. We are proud to announce that they have decided to rename their group “What About Youth?” (W.A.Y), with a renewed focus on creating opportunities for the young people in their communities to have their voices heard on a national and international level. The members of W.A.Y met again in Prague in November to begin their analysis of preliminary data they had collected from youth communities in their home countries.

The W.A.Y is now taking initiative in developing their own youth exchange activity for the young people across the network as well as creating new strategies to incorporate youth leadership into Caravan’s governance.

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It was a truly action-packed year for us at Caravan, with many project activities taking place and enabling us to advance in many areas of our strategic plan. All the accomplishments we have made have been immensely valuable, and we are hugely grateful for all the work that has gone into facilitating and producing these tools and events that help professionalise the field of youth and social circus. We now begin our 2023 with the ambition and drive to keep developing our projects and practices around the world and continue improving people’s lives through the wonderful art of circus.

Wishing you all the best,

The Caravan Network

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All images shared by Caravan Network. Main image: November 2022 General Assembly meeting
Caravan Circus Network
Caravan is an international youth and social circus network of 30 circus schools from across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, that advocates for the positive impact of youth and social circus. The network was established in 2008 by 6 European circus schools, with a common goal to use social circus as an educational tool and to dedicate this work to groups from disadvantaged backgrounds with specific needs.
We are a non-profit organisation that is committed to developing the sector and empowering our members and their participants. Our members are closely connected, and these links have been created through our projects: Youth festivals and exchanges, training for trainers programmes, capacity building, volunteer exchange, production of research, seminars and gathering of resources.
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Caravan Circus Network

Caravan is an international youth and social circus network of 30 circus schools from across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, that advocates for the positive impact of youth and social circus. The network was established in 2008 by 6 European circus schools, with a common goal to use social circus as an educational tool and to dedicate this work to groups from disadvantaged backgrounds with specific needs. We are a non-profit organisation that is committed to developing the sector and empowering our members and their participants. Our members are closely connected, and these links have been created through our projects: Youth festivals and exchanges, training for trainers programmes, capacity building, volunteer exchange, production of research, seminars and gathering of resources.