The Social Circus Movement: Alive and Kicking!


Image by rafayanwer,

Social circus is rapidly gaining popularity throughout the circus community. Here’s a little info about this wonderful, growing movement!

What is social circus?

Cirque du Soleil and other organizations define social circus as outreach to at-risk kids to build confidence and strengthen emotional health. Some international social circuses include Clowns Without Borders, Cirque du Monde and Zip Zap Circus. These particular programs focus on either traveling to developing areas outside the US or bringing kids from these areas to the US.

Do all social circuses focus on outreach internationally?

No, there are many smaller social circuses throughout the US that serve a local community. They have the same missions of giving kids some tools to succeed in the future via circus, but function on a smaller scale.

What is AYCO’s role in the promotion of social circus?

AYCO recently completed the first phase of a multi-year plan to support the growth of social circus in the US by creating The Social Circus Network. The Network includes members from Circus Harmony of Missouri, CircEsteem of Illinois, Fern Street Circus of California, Trenton Circus Squad of New Jersey, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus of New York, Circus Smirkus of Vermont, My Nose Turns Red of Ohio, Prescott Circus Theatre of California, The Circus Project of Oregon, Wise Fool New Mexico, SANCA of Washington, Phoenix Youth Circus of Arizona, Salida Circus of Colorado, Zip Zap Circus, Circus Up, Circus Mojo, Circo Social Puerto Rico, and the International School of Louisiana Circus Arts Program.

Does social circus refer exclusively to working with at-risk youth?

No, some social circuses focus on working with kids with disabilities and adults, such as Circus Mojo of Kentucky and Circus of Hope. Circus outreach programs can take many forms, and often times larger circus schools have programs for disabled children and adults, as well as programs that send performers to hospitals.

How do I get involved with social circus?

The world of social circus is growing, and there are more recognized social circuses around the US than in past decades. Find a local social circus and try it out. Or, if there is not one near you, start an initiative!

– Emily

The following link is to the list of social circuses recognized by AYCO. Maybe one of them is near you!

If you have more questions, feel free to email AYCO’s social circus coordinator:

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