The circus is coming to town, but not as you know it. Swapping the Big Top for the classroom, the UK’s largest contemporary circus are embarking on a 6-month creative residency within Adamsdown Primary School in the heart of Cardiff.
This Arts Council of Wales funded project marks the first sustained creative collaboration between NoFit State and a local school, the residency will consist of creative workshops with the school’s pupils covering the breadth of circus, storytelling and artistic performance. The residency will culminate in a participatory community day-festival, with creative performances, visual exhibitions and food, right on the school’s grounds to celebrate Cardiff’s refugee and asylum seekers population.
“Adamsdown Primary School are very proud of the links we have with NoFit State Circus,” says Emma Thomas, Head Teacher at Adamsdown Primary School. “The Circus to Schoolyard project will provide our pupils with opportunities to learn new skills in a fun and inspiring way. The circus sessions are always entertaining and allow the children and families to connect with our local community leading to them feeling safe and included, a vital part of our ‘School of sanctuary’ status. We are excited by this opportunity and look forward to inspiring children through creative circus skills.”
Crucial to the project’s design is not just a reflection, but a celebration of the diverse nature of Adamsdown Primary and its cohort. The school teaches pupils from over 50 different countries, 84% of which speak English as an additional language, and many come from families that have undergone displacement through seeking asylum.
As an act of solidarity with the community’s thriving and diverse population, the festival will coincide with Refugee Week (17 to 23 June 2020). Celebrating the growing community of refugees and their contribution to British life, the residency aims to use creative expression and performance to communicate shared values and increase understanding.
“I am really excited about this creative residency with our local Adamsdown Primary School,” Kate Parry, Community Programme Manager at NoFit State Circus. “NoFit State’s community programme is committed to supporting creative learning and encouraging participation in the circus arts irrespective of background and experience. With Adamsdown as the home of NoFit State, it is particularly exciting to have this opportunity to work with our local community at Adamsdown Primary School, and to have the support of the local Welsh Refugee Council. Through this creative residency we will tell the stories of our local community, creating a participative performance with the children of Adamsdown Primary culminating with a day-long event of festivities to share with our local community in celebration of Refugee week. Adamsdown is one of the most culturally diverse wards in Wales, and this project came about in recognition of the richness and variety that this brings to community, to celebrate it and to respond to the voices and stories of the children of Adamsdown. The festivities will involve circus performance, visual exhibitions, storytelling, and food, all during refugee week. Projects such as this, which encourage participation, expression, and celebration of community are so incredibly important.”
To help carry out the festival, the partners have also enlisted the help of the Welsh Refugee Council to promote the event among the refugee community, as well as working with community partners to support the cultural celebration through providing a multicultural food offering for the event.
Located less than 500 metres from one another, NoFit State and Adamsdown Primary have a pre-existing relationship, having already worked together to provide circus workshops with the support of BBC Children in Need. Through this new project they hope to develop this relationship further, whilst also demonstrating the huge benefits that engaging with performing arts can bring to young people from all walks of life.
To find out more about the project over the coming months visit www.nofitstate.org or follow NoFit State Circus on their community social media channels.
(header image credit: Craig Kirkwood)