Celebrating the Art of Circus
Earlier this month, the 50th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall welcomed dozens of circus organizations and set the stage for an historic opportunity to bring together circus arts professionals from across the country. On July 5th (P.T. Barnum’s birthday coincidentally), the National Endowment for the Arts welcomed close to 200 circus arts performers, leaders, scholars, historians, administrators, presenters, and funders to our offices for a conversation on the state of the field. Why circus arts? Why the National Endowment for the Arts? Why now?
Circus continues to blend various traditional art form features—such as dance, music, theater, athleticism, daredevilry, staging, choreography, and costuming—into a clearly defined performance art. It blurs the lines between theater and exhibition, artistry and craftsmanship, old and new, outsider and insider, and though there have been periods of ebb and flow, we are seeing an extraordinary revival. This is significant, because it underscores circus arts as a burgeoning grassroots movement—and the art form’s increase in mainstream popularity. In 2015, aerialist Dolly Jacobs was selected as a National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellow, the first ever circus performer to be so honored.
Link to Full Article at NEA.