CircusTalk is a professional circus-specific online ‘social network’ aimed at the global circus community which launched this year. Aiming to change how we connect, network, hire and exchange information in the circus industry –
“CircusTalk will help the industry to connect, unite, and save time,” says Andrea Honis, CircusTalk co-founder, a fifth-generation member of a European circus family. “By working together as a community, we can create a centralised resource centre to bond our distinct elements, foster communication, and elevate the industry as a whole.”
Registering an account on CircusTalk is free and allows members to access a comprehensive Who’s Who database of artists and companies. In addition, members can post and search events, jobs and auditions and create pages to promote their acts and shows.
Interview with Kim Campbell editor-in-chief of CircusTalk News
Kim Campbell is a circus and theatre critic and writer. She has written for Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, Circus Promoters and was a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. She is the former editor of American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where she writes about arts and culture.
Kim also conducts interviews with artists and industry influencers, and provides up-to-date original reporting on industry activity from every part of the circus world as well as inviting circus writers and industry experts from all over the world to share their expertise.
I shot Kim a few questions to find out more about how CircusTalk came about, how they hope it will affect the global circus community and encouraging people to write about circus.
How did Circus Talk come about?
The founder, Andrea Honis had the idea after years of working in the entertainment industry. She came from a European circus family and always felt a connection to the world of circus, and at the same time, she noticed a need in the industry to communicate and connect better by using the tools that the 21st century provides. It had previously been such a niche industry and a small community but its growing –national circus schools are springing up in every country to accommodate the demand for more professionals, and as that happens the industry is developing in all directions, from manufacturing to production, to design. Everyone previously had to find each other by word of mouth or blind online searches, but we have tools to make connecting and finding a costume designer or an acrobat easier–and fun.
How many people work on it full time? where are they based?
On the one hand, we have a very international team–our design and web development team is in Europe and Japan, our director Andrea is in New York city and Fiona (social media and community manager) and I (editor) are based in Chicago. We are also building an advisory board of professionals from Europe, Australia and the US, and have a growing team of contributors at Circus Talk News from all over the world. That said, we are currently a small, tightknit, team.
How do you hope Circus Talk will affect the global Circus community/industry?
There are numerous ways we hope to affect the global circus community, but the main way is to enhance connection. We want to connect the artists with the programmers, the designers with the artists, the students with the educators, and so on. We want to be the company that people know to turn to when they have a question about how to navigate an insurance policy or what festivals they should attend. We want to be the resource that is so sorely needed for every person in the industry.
How is Circus Talk sustainable? Is it a funded project or does it survive on advertising or some other way?
At the moment, it is funded by private investment, but in order for Circus Talk to grow and keep adding useful features and reaching a wider membership, we will need to fund it with further investment and advertising. Keep in mind we are a brand new platform though, and currently focusing on making it the most useful resource in the industry. The main way we can survive is by gaining new and enthusiastic members who share their expertise. Circus Talk is only as strong as its membership, which is free.
In the age of so many social media platforms and digital distractions – What are some of the challenges you face in getting people to sign up and interact with the platform?
That is a really good point! People are initially very excited to sign up and fill out their profile because they can upload their photos and videos and describe their work or business, and they like CircusTalk News because they get breaking news and professional information they need. But beyond that, we have to work to keep them engaged in adding to their profiles and especially in interacting with other’s info. It amounts to the fact that we have to teach our members how to use CircusTalk and what features are available to maximize their profile. People do have so many technological things they juggle every day. It’s just a matter of each person or company realizing what a one-stop professional tool it can be for them, and then they make an effort to keep people updated on their work and to connect. We recently have added a few useful features like Your Top 5 Stories, and See Who Follows You to help people stay informed of what is new and how it affects them. Also, in the future, we plan to roll out more elements that will engage users in interactive and exciting ways. Meanwhile, we invite our users to send us feedback and let us know about their needs.
How will the platform work best and how can artists, individuals and companies help it grow so it can help them?
The best way Circus Talk will work is if people in the industry embrace it as a tool to connect, which they are already doing, and if they use the features that suit them. For example, when a circus school has auditions, they can post the information on our jobs and auditions page in addition to the other locations they share that information with. It seems counter-intuitive maybe for someone like NICA in Melbourne to post their audition information when they are thinking most of their students will be local, but as we know, circus is an international industry and we are truly an international platform. If a potential student from South America finds out about NICA and applies because their country doesn’t have a national circus school, that only gives NICA and the student more options. If you are looking for an aerial instructor in Wisconsin, maybe a recent graduate of a French school will contact you about an exchange. Those kinds of things can happen, and the additional features we plan to add over the course of this year will make it even more likely. So the ways it can help companies and individuals is by being a giant mega horn to the circus world saying “We need this!” or “Look what we are offering!” And of course, it helps for people to have a pulse of what is happening in their industry, not just locally, but worldwide too.
Can people contribute articles to CircusTalk News? If so how do they do that?
Yes, we welcome new contributors to CircusTalk News! We cover everything from artist interviews, to reviews, research, opinion and beyond. We like short, punchy advice columns, humour pieces, history, photography, listicles, and also in-depth explorations of issues that are of concern to professionals. You don’t need to be a professional writer to contribute, just someone who works in circus and who has information they wish to impart about a subject they care about. We are open to hearing about your ideas for an article–just send me a pitch letter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Circus is unquestionably a ‘live’ medium, but In this digital age, how important do you feel these types of circus networking sites, blogs, podcasts and online resources are to the development and growth of the art form and how do they add value?
I think it is more important than people might think. For starters, just having a platform that discusses circus in a critical and practical light is revolutionary. It helps us to work collectively and to gain the language and the steam we need to validate circus as an art form in the eyes of government funders, the general public and corporate entertainment makers. I also think it helps circus to grow by definition–having access to the unlimited variations of circus that exist really opens up our minds to what it possible, and to get support and encouragement from fellow artists beyond your immediate area (where things can sometimes become territorial rather than supportive) is freeing artistically. Lastly, I think circus has suffered in previous centuries from being ephemeral, for just passing through. It left a lot of good memories but in many cases not much historical record. Now, as the art form is having a renaissance phase, we are able to follow its trajectory carefully and understand its evolution more clearly.
You’ve written a lot about circus as a critic and journalist – What are your top tips for people wanting to write about or review circus?
I want to encourage every circus fan and artist to become a circus critic. We have a lot of work cut out for us. There is a real shortage of writers with any knowledge of contemporary or classic circus and I believe that a culture does not truly accept a cultural phenomenon until it has been recorded, observed, discovered, and shared–in other words, documented. And there are very few publications about circus and even fewer popular publications that regularly make note of it the way they would of theatre or dance. I think it is the sacred duty of circus writers to put circus on the public’s radar. So, to start, I advise people who are interested in writing about circus to go to every circus show they can, big and small, and to write about it on their blogs, and social media, to share what is new and exciting with everyone because circus is irresistible when you see it or hear it described well. Have the courage to offer reviews to newspapers and journals–tell them why they need to cover circus. Tell them how it is an important part of our heritage and also a living, breathing art form! As for how to write about circus, that is a personal choice. For me, circus is the perfect marriage of physical and artistic, so I try to notice where the two shine together in a performance and to make note of innovations.The world needs more circus writers!
Why Circus for you? What do you love about it and what drew you to it and writing about it?
For me, like a lot of Circus Talk members, circus is inseparable from life. When I first discovered it, through my children getting involved, it was like a piece of the universe clicked into place. It was a place where people of all sizes, shapes and backgrounds gathered together to support one another while they tried to do impossible things. It was a place for dreamers and outcasts to get in touch with a part of humanity that the rest of humanity seems to be de-emphasizing, the physical self. Combining the physical and the artistic in one form of expression to me feels like gluing the broken world back together. It gives me hope and sustenance, and I think that is the magic that keeps it alive for audiences as well as the artists who make the art.
Find out more by following the links below –
So dear readers, as we know from all the other varieties of social media distractions, these kinds of platforms work better the more people are on them and engaging with them, so I encourage you to check it out – read some articles, make a profile, upload some pics or videos and ‘follow’ some artists or companies you are interested in (You can follow Carnival Cinema for example 😉 )!
Thanks so much for your time Kim, I wish you all the best for CircusTalk!
Peace & Respect to all,
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