Grassroot network 2021: Conclusions


Grassroot Baltic Circus Artists’ network boosted the Baltic circus artists community in 2021

The Grassroot Baltic Circus Artists’ network was established in 2021 with the support of Nordic Culture Point Nordic-Baltic mobility programme and it was created to provide opportunities for growth, boost collaboration and improve the professional capacity of operating Baltic circus artists. The network initiative included leading Baltic circus arts institutions and umbrella organisations as well as professional circus artists and artistic companies. Artists were involved to take an active part in the decision making process to create the necessary boost for the artistic community.

Project activities included:
4 ONLINE GATHERINGS in Zoom to discuss activities, schedule, upcoming workshop content, mentors and other initiatives with involved artists and organisations. Gatherings took place on May 27,  July 29, September 28, November 11. Each gathering included at least 10 activists, in total up to 40 members took part in online gatherings.

In total the workshops involved 48 artists from all the Baltic countries as well as Sweden and Finland. 12 per each workshop (limited due to artistic capacity of mentors and available space for creative tasks involving circus techniques). 32 travel and accommodation bursaries were granted to the participants to access workshops.

# Collective creation workshop hosted by the International circus festival “Cirkuliacija” took place in the recently opened contemporary circus centre in Lithuania, Kaunas – “Cirko sapiens” during June 10-13, 2021. The workshop “Uncomfortable places” was led by Finnish circus artist Inka Pehkonen (Sisus company), who arranged the creative tasks to take the artists out of their comfort zones. Participating artists included 9 from Lithuania, 2 from Estonia and 1 from Latvia.

# Scenography and lights design workshop in Vilnius during September 6-7, 2021 in the frameworks of the International circus festival “Helium” in Vilnius, Lithuania. The thematic workshops were hosted by festival organisers – Arts Printing House and and were led by well known Lithuanian professionals – scenographer Barbora  Skaburskė and light designer Darius Malinauskas. The goal of the workshops was to introduce artists to the basics of space creation with help of scenography, sculpture and light design, after which they could use the knowledge in their own show creations. Participating artists included 6 from Lithuania, 4 from Estonia, 2 from Latvia.

# Art marketing and self promotion workshop was held in the frameworks of the Baltic professional circus showcase “Epicirq” in Tallinn, Estonia. An intensive day on October 5th, 2021 included two workshops led by well known Baltic professionals. The workshop by Gildas Aleksa (LT) covered the topics of self-promotion and needed processes in the contemporary cultural field. The workshop by Jürgen Visnapuu (EE) gave an overview of the holistic approach to marketing that he considers to be – the minimum effort with maximum efficiency. Lecturer discussed real cases thus reminding participants the main topics about artists branding, paid and organic marketing, target audience, added-value, tracking etc. Participating artists included 3 from Lithuania, 5 from Estonia, 3 from Latvia, 1 from Sweden and 1 from Finland..

# Dramaturgy was covered in the artistic laboratory that took place at the end of November 22–27, 2021 in Kaunas, Lithuania at the circus school Cirko Sapiens. Circus artists discovered and expanded their creative communication tools, sources, emotional and energy vectors via their circus disciplines while working solo and in groups. Workshop leader was a contemporary circus director, clown, mime and improvisation theatre actor Pau Portabella (Spain) The tasks and exercises performed during this week as well as the final presentation also helped to create and strengthen a sense of Baltic circus community and gave the final boost of the year for Grassroot Baltic circus artists’ network. Participating artists included 10 from Lithuania, 1 from Estonia, 3 from Latvia, 1 from UK, 1 from Sweden.

MOBILITY GRANTS to kickstart artistic collaboration between the Baltic artists.
In total 6 grants were distributed between 10 artists/companies.

– Grant to – Lizeth Wolk (EE) and Konstantin Kosovec (LT) to create a site specific performance with Alexey Smolov during festival Re Riga in Latvia, During August 22-25, 2021.

– Grant to Kanta company (LT) – Aino Mäkipää, Kęstas Matusevičius, Lyla Goldman to participate in handstand workshop in Riga, September 7–8, 2021 to gain additional professional training for their upcoming show “107 ways to deal with Pressure”.

– Grant to Aleksey Smolov (LT) and Marcus Wärnheim (Swe) to continue the work-in-progress production before Baltic showcase “Epicirq” in Tallinn, 2–3 October
– Grant to Aleksey Smolov (LT) to meet other Baltic artists during Roberto Magro workshop “Invisible Strings” in Kaunas, October 18–22, 2011 in Kaunas, circus school – Circo Sapiens;

– Grant to Lizeth Wolk (EE) and Aleksey Smolov (LV) for a new performance creation during residency in circus school “Cirko Sapiens” in Kaunas, Lithuania, December 17-23, 2021

MENTORING SESSIONS were provided by 4 main partner organisations Rīgas cirks (LV), Menu Spaustuve/ Arts Printing House (LT), Teatronas (Circuliacija and Cirko Sapiens (LT) and Estonian Contemporary Circus Development Centre (Epicirq, EE). More than 20 artists were consulted for total of 128 hours during 8 months. Mentoring sessions related various topics regarding performance productions, funding applications, touring possibilities, communications and PR questions, collaborations for cross-sectoral projects, Community engagement processes,  teaching opportunities and many more bringing contribution to various realised projects and ideas in the making.

CATALOGUE OF BALTIC CIRCUS was being made during 2021 and includes information about 13 active artists, 22 shows and 16 organisations providing a valuable summary about the circus field in the Baltics. Around 500 printed versions distributed mainly during Baltic circus showcase “Epicirq” in Tallinn, during October 2-3, 2021 and elsewhere available in main circus organisations around Baltics. Electronic pdf version published and available in Rīgas cirks page.

The network activities gathered Baltic artists and increased their knowledge and understanding of the Baltic circus community and strengthened its sense of unity. It helped to identify common Baltic artists strengths and weaknesses and via workshops addressed the improvements of those as well as involved artists from other genres (like musicians, dancers, actors) in order to explore artistic potential and possibilities. Network activities strengthened the belief in the variety and potential of Baltic circus artists and its future prospects.