Like the rest of the world, American circus artists have spent the last eighteen months largely out of work, unemployed and stunned. Although we often joke about how careers in the arts are fragile, the pandemic has made many circus performers in the US understand in very real terms how little institutional support there is for our field.
Whenever a recession hits the United States, the arts and entertainment industry is one of the first to buckle, as we also saw after the dot-com bubble collapsed in the early 2000s and again in the aftermath of the Great Recession later that decade. Historically, these economic recessions are accompanied by what some economists call a “social recession,” a years-long period where conditions within a country deteriorate, leading to a contraction of the country’s social, cultural, and artistic spheres. Social recessions are marked by their length. Between 1971 and 2006, the United States endured five economic recessions, four of which were short, lasting less than a year. The corresponding “social recessions” had an average duration of five years each.  The professionalization of American circus does not have to mean the gentrification...
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