Cluster Arts Brisbane Circus Management Backstage Business

Circus News

Cluster Arts: Brisbane’s Circus Management Team Backstage and Taking Care of Business

Transcribing my conversation with Deb Wilks (Executive Director) and Kate Malone (Executive Producer) of Cluster Arts was like time travel. We spoke in mid-March. The company was celebrating its 5th anniversary, and Covid-19 had yet to truly, globally impact the performing arts. I listened to our past selves describe future plans that now we know will not take place. Despite the time warp, this interview expresses something far more permanent: Cluster Arts’ core values of support and love for the artists they represent, Australian communities and audiences, and the art form of circus. The Brisbane based management team helps artists and companies become sustainable organizations from the ground up as well as propelling already established enterprises into new possibilities. The company handles everything from keeping promotional photos organized to the copious details involved with international touring. They represent companies such as Casus Circus, Company 2 and Briefs. I remember thinking as we ended the conversation, if I needed a management team, it would be Cluster Arts. 
Madeline Hoak: After looking at the Cluster Arts’ website, I have to ask, what don’t you do? Deb Wilks: (with a laugh) We don’t perform! Kate Malone: We love management.  MH: Cluster Arts provides ‘backend’ services. Tell me more about that. In Australia, generally, you’re a not-for-profit. We’re going the opposite direction and making [companies] a proprietary limited company, that is a for-profit model. They should be proudly seeking to make money. Let’s get away from this idea of not earning money or being poor. DW: It’s the stuff behind the scenes that nobody sees: the budget, the booking, the insurances, the contracts, the visas. All the stuff that has to happen before anyone does anything, really… [artists] wear many hats, and sometimes the b...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline Hoak is an artist and academic who creates with, through and about circus. She is an Associate Editor for CircusTalk, Adjunct Professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, a member of the American Circus Alliance's EDI committee, and the Editor and Curatorial Director of TELEPHONE, an international arts game. Madeline has performed, coached, produced, and choreographed at elite regional and international venues. Her background in dance and physical theater are infiltrated into her coaching and creation style. She is passionate about providing her students holistic circus education that includes physical, historical, theoretical resources. Madeline initiated the Aerial Acrobatics program at her alma mater, Muhlenberg College, where she taught from 2012-2017. She is also a regular contributor to Cirkus Syd's Circus Thinkers international reading group. Her circus research has been supported by Pace, NYU, and Concordia University. Recent publications include "Teaching the Mind-Body: Integrating Knowledges through Circus Arts'' (with Alisan Funk, Dan Berkley), a chapter in Art as an Agent for Social Change, "expanding in(finite) between," a multimedia essay in Circus Thinkers: Reflections, 2020, and "Digital Dance & TELEPHONE: A Unique Spectator Experience." Madeline has presented academic papers at numerous conferences including Circus and it’s Others (UC Davis), the Popular Culture Association, Gallatin (NYU), and McGill University. Madeline earned an MA from Gallatin, New York University’s School of Independent Study, where she designed a Circus Studies curriculum with a focus on spectatorship.