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NICA Stays With Swinburne

Many of you, particularly our members and friends in Australia, will be aware that NICA, the National Institute of Circus Arts, has been in the news recently.

Plans for NICA to become independent of its founding parent – Swinburne University of Technology – were abruptly abandoned at the end of June with a statement from Swinburne University of Technology that said: “Swinburne University of Technology will continue to be the home for circus arts offered through the National Institute of Circus Arts, following a decision that NICA will no longer pursue activities to become an independent performing arts training organisation.”

Since early 2012, NICA, which was founded by Swinburne in 1999, has been working with the university on an exit strategy that would have seen Australia’s only world-class circus training institution become an independent entity in July this year. Swinburne, however, on June 25 announced that it no longer supported the separation and said that “NICA was not yet in a position to become independent” and that it would directly manage NICA from July 1. The same day, a new Director/CEO was introduced at NICA, replacing the institutes former Director/CEO, Pamela Creed, whose contract expired on June 30 and was not renewed.

Following Swinburne’s initial statement NICA’s Board of Director’s released their own statement:

…we were shocked to be advised that SUT has announced that they have ceased all action regarding independence and now propose an alternative course of action to directly manage NICA.

SUT have not indicated in any detail what their alternative plan is.
The independent Directors were not consulted, nor consented to, the proposed course of action that SUT is unilaterally seeking to impose on NICA.

Directors believe that SUT should resume negotiations to enable an independent NICA to be achieved.

The abrupt change to plans and the removal of NICA’s now former Director/CEO has been met with resistance and concern from many in the circus community, who also have a myriad of questions about the future of NICA. The apparent anxiety over the matter is most likely what prompted Professor Linda Kristjanson, Vice-Chancellor and President at Swinburne University of Technology, to publish an open letter about the university’s decision on its website:

NICA was established by Swinburne in 1999 and has been associated with Swinburne ever since. For the last year, Swinburne has been working closely with NICA with the aim of achieving independence for the institute by July this year.

Despite some encouraging progress, Swinburne took the view that NICA was not yet in a position to achieve full independence. Having nurtured NICA for the past fourteen years, it would not have been responsible for Swinburne to allow NICA to strike out on its own, only to see it fail if it was not yet ready…

NICA students are and have always been Swinburne students. They graduate with a Swinburne qualification and go on to great success as circus performers around the world.

NICA’s signature program, the Bachelor of Circus Arts, will continue to be available and auditions will be held for the next generation of aspiring performers in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne from September this year.


For more information, see:

July 5: Open Letter to Community Regarding NICA by Professor Linda Kristjanson, Vice-Chancellor and President, Swinburne University of Technology

July 4: Head Over Heals for the Big Top, The Age

June 26: NICA Director’s Shocked as Independence Plan Scuppered, artsHub

June 25: NICA’s Freedom Denied in Swinburne Backflip, The Weekly Review

June 25: Statement by NICA’s Board of Directors

June 25: Swinburne Remains Home of Circus Arts

Save NICA campaign

Extended Reading

March 14, 2013: Commonwealth Support for Circus Arts (Press Release from Swinburne)

November 2012: NICA Circus Showcase, photo gallery by the Peninsula weekly

March 2012: An interview with Pamela Creed by artsHub

July 2012: Circus School Juggles Swinburne Split by The Age

The NICA story


The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia

L’histoire terrible mais inachevée de Sihanouk Roi du Cambodge (The terrible though unfinished story of Sihanouk, King of Cambodia”) is a play by Helene Cixous written in 1985 that recounts contemporary Cambodian history starting from the country’s independence in 1953 until the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

The seven hour-long play in Khmer language revisits a difficult page in Cambodian history on stage. This play has been adapted between 2007 and 2011 by Georges Bigot and Delphine Cotty with 30 Cambodian actors from Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) is a non-profit cultural organisation in Battambang, Cambodia, that offers young people a way out of poverty by training them to become professional artists and performers. Established in 2004, PPS uses the arts – circus, theatre, visual arts – as an instrument for human development and social change and steers underprivileged children and youth towards a better quality of life through cultural, artistic, educational and social skills. Over 18 years, PPS has become a professional art school and effective social center with far-reaching impact and has played an influential role in promoting and developing Khmer culture over the years after the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Phare Ponleu Selpak are raising funds to support the production of L’histoire terrible mais inachevée de Sihanouk Roi du Cambodge and are currently more than 70% towards their target of €6,000.

Visit PPS’ fundraising page and their website to learn more about PPS and L’histoire terrible mais inachevée de Sihanouk Roi du Cambodge.

UPDATE: PPS successfully reached their fundraising goal for the theatre project thanks to the support of more than 70 donors. 

Text, video and image from PPS

Greetings from ASCA

ASCA – Asia-Pacific Social Circus Association – is a new association for social circus programs throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

ASCA, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, intends to be a meaningful source of information and resources for those who support arts and education, and personal development, for young people across the region.

With the support of Cirque du Soleil, ASCA aims to connect social circus groups from across the region and build a stable and reliable network to facilitate the sharing of ideas, experiences, and resources between its members.

ASCA will also be working to establish a volunteers exchange program and plans to host conferences and events across where members can meet and participate in the exchange of knowledge, skills and training.

Founding members of ASCA include Dan Roberts of the Red Nose Foundation, Richard Barber from the Makhampom Theatre Group, Travis Johnson of the Vancouver Circus School, and Jerry Snell from Circus Action International.

Membership during 2013 is free and will give members access to:

  • Networking opportunities;
  • Volunteer exchange program;
  • A quarterly newsletter with news and updates about member groups;
  • Up-to-date information about grant opportunities;
  • Access to ASCA organized events and training seminars;
  • Exposure to potential sponsors
 Over the next two months, ASCA will be working hard to establish the groundwork for ASCA.
In the meantime, feel free to get in touch, whether it be just to say a quick hello, to find out more about what ASCA has planned for 2013 and beyond.
Individuals and groups can register with ASCA through the Members page on this blog.
We look forward to connecting with all social circus groups in the region and hope that you will consider becoming a part of ASCA.
Contact ASCA: asca@rednosefoundation.org