In the last edition of CircusMagazine, an open letter written by the circus commission to Sven Gatz, the Flemish minister of culture was published. Now, spurred on by that letter, the Flemish circus artists themselves have taken up the pen. The result is a strong, positive and binding manifesto.
[This article was published in Dutch in CircusMagazine #54 – March 2018]
[Translation: Craig Weston // Picture: Circus Ronaldo by Brecht Van Maele – all rights reserved]
[Copyright: Circuscentrum – please contact maarten[at]circuscentrum.be for more information]
We are artists. Performers. Entertainers.
We are self-taught, masters in the arts, graduates from circus schools with serious reputations.
We have gathered our knowledge and our skill from the streets and from our families.
We are inspired creators and highly trained athletes. Dedicated craftsmen with respect for the short history of our art-form.
We are innovators and living Cultural Heritage.
We are artistic DIY’ers and free spirits, in search of what circus can be and what it can become.
We ask the circus difficult questions and think up new answers ourselves.
We are at home on the stage. We don’t exist without an audience.
We are trapeze artists, actors, jugglers, musicians, acrobats, mentalists and clowns.
We are winners of prizes and medals, young wolves and weathered craftsmen.
We are diverse in many ways.
As many circuses as there are circus artists.
But this is what unites us:
We don’t give up. We endure. We are hard workers.
Often with success. Sometimes against our better judgement.
And our numbers are increasing.
We make circus for everyone. From theatre-goers to unsuspecting passers-by.
We make circus in a tent. In a theatre. Outdoors or in a converted lorry. Full of break-neck antics. Or not.
We make beautiful circus. Circus of high quality with a solid reputation nationally and internationally.
We make circus which inspires wonder. Circus that transcends the ooh’s and aah’s. Circus that stands on its own two feet in the heart of society.
We make circus that is relevant.
We make circus that explores its limits and expands them. Circus that learns from and works with other art-forms, but above all looks for its own direction.
We make circus with great desire, ambition and humility.
We make circus that conjures up dreams. Circus that challenges the imagination and stimulates the senses.
Circus that has to be experienced, not just observed.
Circus is interaction, circus is reality, circus is the art of possibilities.
We train our bodies. We make performances.
We plan tours. We build decors.
We repair tents. We do the books.
We drive the trucks. We design our own websites.
We take calculated physical and financial risks.
We are artistic and administrative director.
We do all of this with pride. And we do it well.
We are the flandriens* of the arts.
Even flandriens need air to breathe.
The Circus decree has created opportunities and led to a greater professionalism in the field.
And yet, much is still needed within our sector. The open letter recently written to the minister of culture by the circus commission contained a concise and correct analysis of our sector. We as Flemish circus artists stand behind that letter.
Circus in Flanders is ready for the next step.
(*) From Wikipedia: A flandrien is a cyclist who makes the race more difficult by constantly opting for the attack and continuing to push until he reaches the finish line, over-exhausted. The term originated in the Flemish cycling races of the interwar period when the cyclists were engaged in a constant battle with the badly laid cobblestones of the Flemish roads.