In Tuesday's State budget the Victorian Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu has announced an allocation of $15 million for the construction of a new home for Circus Oz in Collingwood.
This significant support from the Victorian Government not only secures the future of one of Australia’s internationally acclaimed arts organisations, Melbourne’s much-loved Circus Oz, but also makes the dream of establishing the most creative, exciting circus arts precinct in the Southern Hemisphere an attainable reality.
“We are thrilled that the Victorian Premier and Arts Minister Ted Baillieu’s enthusiasm and support for the arts – and, more specifically, circus arts – has led to this overwhelming confirmation and faith in Circus Oz’s future. The establishment of a proper home for Circus Oz, the wonderful work undertaken by small and medium-sized companies and community circuses, together with the location of the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne, puts Victoria at the forefront of this dynamic art-form", says Wendy McCarthy, Chair of Circus Oz.
The site will be developed as a State owned facility purpose built to accommodate Circus Oz. This will be the first time in the company’s 33-year history that Circus Oz will be housed in a facility designed specifically to support the development of contemporary circus and physical theatre.
Circus Oz has outgrown its current premises of 16 years in a former Naval Drill Hall in Port Melbourne. The company is unable to rehearse and develop many routines due to the lack of floor space and rehearsal room height. This has been a serious threat to the future artistic and financial viability of the company. The Victorian Government’s support for the new site will be critical to securing the company’s future. This support will enable Circus Oz to increase its services across the community, including classes for children and adults, as well as the company’s High Flying Teams programs for community and corporate clients.
The new facility will give Circus Oz the capacity to engage with even more Victorians, allowing more programs to run concurrently rather than stopping during rehearsals and will result in increased employment opportunities in the circus arts.
Credited with re-defining a traditional form in a uniquely Australian and contemporary way, Circus Oz has influenced the development of circus arts around the world for over 30 years, from the days of its first critically lauded international tour in 1980. The company is the only Victorian-based arts organisation categorised as an ‘international’ company by State and Federal Government agreement. As well as performing regularly to audiences in urban and rural communities in Victoria and throughout Australia, Circus Oz has represented Victoria’s artistic excellence and distinctly Australian humour in 26 countries over 5 continents, playing to over 2 million people.
As one of the vanguards of the dynamic circus-arts eco-system, Circus Oz not only focuses on performance, but also supporting the small-to-medium arts sector in a number of ways, not the least of which is providing training and rehearsal space for many smaller circuses, physical theatre companies and individual circus artists. The new home will allow Circus Oz to increase its support for the sector.
The company is excited to be joining the strong, creative, vibrant Collingwood community and looks forward to developing relationships with many of the diverse communities in Collingwood, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the families living in local public housing.
Award-winning architects Lovell Chen have been working with Circus Oz and Arts Victoria on the design for the Circus Oz precinct in Collingwood. The site will incorporate 2 full-size rehearsal studios and professional administration facilities, as well as outdoor space for community celebrations.
The new Collingwood site will be something for all Victorians – whether that’s attending circus performances, community events and public classes, or just wandering around and taking in the atmosphere of the carnival that’s always in town.