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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


Overseas Performing Arts Practitioner Wanted


Performers Without Borders is looking for experienced and adventurous volunteers who can perform and teach a range of performance skills to travel to either India or Nicaragua on a 3 or 4 month PWB tour. Volunteers will be spending up to a month at a time with various groups of disadvantaged children in one of these countries, teaching the children and performing in the local area with various partner organisations.

All candidates must fill out an online application form for this role. Please visit http://performerswithoutborders.org.uk/volunteer for more information and to apply.

Overseas Performing Arts Practitioner

Location: India Or Nicaragua

Duration: 3 – 4 Months (India 4, Nicaragua 3)

Dates: Start Jan – April 2014, exact dates TBC

Job Description

We are looking for experienced and adventurous volunteers who can perform and teach a range of performance skills to travel to either India or Nicaragua on a 3 or 4 month PWB tour. Volunteers will be spending up to a month at a time with various groups of disadvantaged children in one of these countries, teaching the children and performing in the local area with various partner organizations.

About The Organization

Performers Without Borders (PWB) is a volunteer run charity that believes in the transforming power of learning and performing the arts. We have been running tours of India annually since 2007, and ran our first tour of Nicaragua in 2013.

PWB works towards giving vulnerable children the opportunity to explore their potential. We understand that, through teaching performance skills an individual’s learning, creativity and team working skills are developed. Further, it helps to build confidence, develop empowerment and overcome social barriers. PWB’s methodology of following the tradition of travelling show, and the principle of fostering long-term relationships, is ideal in not only engaging children, but also ensuring community trust in the project.

PWB envisages a world where all children are able to realize their full potential, and has an understanding of different cultures, the complexity of development issues and the importance of personal action.

PWB will work with partners who engage with vulnerable children in their community to develop centers of performing arts around the world. These centers will act as a means by which international development issues are explored and cross cultural understanding is promoted.

PWB has completed tours in a number of different countries, including in India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. You can view PWB’s videos, photos and blogs from these tours on their website and Flickr page.

A PWB Project

We give volunteers from around the world the opportunity to come together and work for 3 – 4 months with groups of deprived young people in developing countries. We give these young people the chance to learn performance skills, and through this develop their own show to be performed at the end of the month visit.

We aim to build long lasting relationships with the organizations we work with and in the communities we work. We do this through regular visits and on-going work in these groups

 A tour consists of:

  •  A 1-2 week training camp in country to allow you to get acclimatized, put together a show, and finalize the curriculum you will be teaching.
  •  2 or 3 projects with one of our key partners, approx. one month each project. These are organizations that work to support some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the countries we work.
  • Regular out-reach projects. These are performances and workshops that last just one or two days.

 About The Opportunity

 A single tour last 3 to 4 months, but your commitment to PWB begins at the assessment. We ask volunteers to be actively involved in fundraising and promoting PWB’s work before and after the tour. As a volunteer you will be responsible for fundraising the cost of your tour, putting together a show with the rest of the volunteers and planning a teaching curriculum around your unique skills.

As a group you will also have further responsibilities whilst on tour. These include:

  • Finding external groups and organizing shows/workshops
  • Documenting and reporting back on the tour thorough newsletters and videos
  • Managing Budgets
  • Buying and cooking your own food
  • Managing transport logistics
  • Supporting the development of your team mates
  • Organizing ‘rest’ days and activities
  • Ensuring the health and well-being of other team members
  • Reviewing your daily / monthly activities

All accommodation on your tour will be organized centrally by PWB. Costs for meals, accommodation and transport will be covered by your initial contribution to PWB, but it will be up to you as a team to manage these budgets whilst on-tour, following the PWB guidelines.

Auditions and Training

Auditions will be held on 27th July, and will run from 12 – 5 PM.

PWB will be running two separate training weekends for the 2014 tours. These are on the 31st August/1st September and 7th/8th September

Tour Dates

Tours begin in the first week of January, and last until the end of April at the latest.

About You

PWB candidates must demonstrate the following;


  • A mid to high level of skill in one or more circus skill or performance art
  • Experience teaching to mixed groups of children and young people
  • Experience of creating and performing shows


  • Experience living/volunteering overseas
  • Experience of working in a team/touring
  • Experience of coordinating travel logistics
  • Experience of creating/editing short videos
  • Experience writing blogs/social media
  • Mid to high-level skills in 3 or more circus / performance arts.
  • Experience in working with multiple partner organizations.

To Apply

All candidates must fill out an online application form for this role.

Please visit http://performerswithoutborders.org.uk/volunteer for more information and to apply.