Circus for Climate
With the support of EEA Grants, SLLC “Rīgas cirks” in cooperation with the Norwegian network for performing arts and sustainable circus company “Acting for Climate” in March 2022 launched a new international project called “Circus for Climate”.
The main goal of the project is to explore the collective empowerment that multidisciplinary approach to education, art and activism can provide. The aim is to create a space for youngsters, artists and environmental specialists to meet and to work together across different regions of Latvia around the topic of art activism for environmental sustainability.
Artists involved in the project
The project will bring together an international team from Latvia and Norway. Overall the project is promoted and overseen by “Rīgas cirks” and the content methodology, as well as facilitation for the laboratories, will be provided by artists from “Acting for Climate” as well as artist duo Ingrīda Pičukāne and Vivianna Maria Stanislavska. During the laboratory process, they will collaborate with local contemporary circus and dance artists as well as with youngsters from different regions in Latvia to work with physical movement techniques derived from a core practice in dance and circus.
The artists from Norway will also take the responsibility of the artistic direction of the final performances. Environmental and climate change experts will be invited to the project and will be allowed to take part in laboratories as well as in developing working strategies with youngsters.
Since their beginning in 2015, “Acting for Climate” has established themselves as a leading artistic organisation and company when it comes to working with environmentalism, especially combined with the contemporary circus. They have developed their own method, strongly based on the value of non-formal learning, nature-based learning, and empowerment of youth through direct action and participation. Their method has been developed through their workshops and creations, in the meeting point with youth, artists, and scientists. Ever since they started their artistic project, they have grown from a small group of young, engaged people, into a big network of professional artists creating and touring their own performances.
Over the course of seventeen months, 5 laboratories will be organised – each in a different region of Latvia. Five groups of 15 youngsters aged 14-16, will be invited through an open call to participate in the project. Each laboratory will take place for 3 full days where artists and youngsters will gather together in one venue to fully emerge in the artistic process.
In the first laboratory, the Latvian comic book artist duo Ingrīda Pičukāne and Vivianna Maria Stanislavska, who both have extensive experience in illustrating and publishing as well as working with young people, will use different comic book and visual art creation methods to enrich youngsters knowledge of how storyboards and scenarios are created. Both artists have pedagogical experience and they will team up with youngsters to help them develop their own ideas and, eventually, translating them into illustrations and posters.
At the end of the project, a zine will be developed as a result, portraying and expressing the environmental concerns the youngsters will have brought up. Short videos will be made with AR technologies to make artists and drawings in the book ‘alive’.
An audience development workshop will also be organised in the format of a two-day long meeting for professionals from rural regions of Latvia, facilitated by “Acting for Climate” artists, aiming at developing at least 3 audience development methodologies as well as to collaborate and develop new ideas adapted for use in rural areas of Latvia. This will be an opportunity to share experiences and gain new knowledge on practical tools and art-based methods to be replicated and used for audience development.
Finally, a one-month-long residency will take place, where the contemporary circus and dance artists from Latvia together with “Acting for Climate” will work on a scalable site-specific performance on climate change inspired by work with youth during the laboratories of the project.
It will be an interdisciplinary (circus/ dance/ visual arts) site-specific performance on the view of climate change in the population of teenagers and young adults with the possibility to transform it into a small-scale performance.
The performances together with the comic book will become a useful educational tool and material to offer to the schools all over Latvia (within an existing program “Latvian School Bag”).
Why this project?
One of the reasons why “Rīgas cirks” felt the necessity to create this project is that, while the proposition of culture and art in Latvia is quite rich for adults and small children, there is a lack of cultural and artistic products for teenagers and youngsters especially outside of the big theatres in the capital city. Equally, it can also be seen that the circus often reaches audience groups that wouldn’t normally attend performances about climate change, and has therefore proved to be an effective tool in reaching new audience groups. It is an opening for both political, and contemporary performance and contemporary circus.
Also, the civic society in Latvia is very passive. Older generations who have experienced soviet times have a very low belief in the possibility to influence political decisions and this opinion is passed down over generations. It is important to change this opinion and empower future generations to act for change. This passivity is correlated to a lack of knowledge of different tools society can use for influencing the political and societal processes. It is possible to see that in countries where these tools are known by generations, the level of youth activism is very high, teenagers and youth engage in activism from a very young age. Greta Thunberg and the movement “Fridays for future” that started in Sweden, is a great example that age does not matter when there is a need to express a stand for something important.
Furthermore, climate change is a subject that cannot be ignored in any working field. We have to take responsibility for our actions for future generations. As the latest scientific 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated; it finds changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many changes are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Some, such as continued sea-level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.
The report clearly stated that the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed. It also showed that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate, pointing to strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to limit climate change.
With that in mind, it is a known fact that young people, now, more than ever, have the opportunity to communicate and to unite outside of their home environment – nationally and internationally. The ways how to voice one’s opinion and to become active are different, however, through this project we want to demonstrate that it is possible to effectively use non-verbal stage expressions, performance and comic/graphic novel art to approach your peers as well as a broader audience to express your concerns.
In this project, practical methods will be used as well as historical examples to show how art can be used as a form of activism to create change in society. Instead of using a top-down hierarchy and trying to persuade teens of our perception, we will collaborate with them, provide tools and empower them to find their own voices. As the EEA Grants slogan states “Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe“ is also what the project stands for.
The project has been created with the support of the European Economic Area (EEA) Grants Financial Mechanism funding period 2014. – 2021. program “Local Development, Poverty Reduction, and Cultural Cooperation” open call “Support for the Creation of Professional Art and Cultural Products for Children and Youth”.
The project’s total eligible costs are 231 636 euros. The project Nr.EEZ/2021/1/16 “Circus for Climate” created by SLLC “Rīgas cirks” in collaboration with “Acting for Climate” benefits from a financing of 196 890.65 euros from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway EEA Grants and 34 745.42 euros from national co-financing. The project’s realisation period is from 1 March 2022 until 31 July 2023.
More information about the EEA Grants Financial Mechanism can be found HERE.
The overlook of the IPCC 2021 report can be found HERE.
In case of necessity please contact the project manager Ieva Ozoliņa.