The Circus Manager through history

Historically, the circus has been driven by strong entrepreneurship. As the other performing arts approached the domain of high art and thereby gained access to all that this entails in terms of building stages, establishing institutions and supporting social structures, the art of circus beat a different path.

The traveling lifestyle, the constant quest for innovation and spectacular acts in pursuit of new and larger audiences and fresh ways of establishing themselves became second nature to the circus and grew out of the need to survive on a strictly commercial market. Historically, the enormous physical risks the artists expose themselves to beneath the tent’s canvas reflect the great financial risks involved in running a circus. "Therefore, circuses have seldom been run by people who already have capital and responsibility, but rather by those who have neither and therefore have nothing to lose." (from "Rings of Desire - Circus History and Representation" by Helen Stoddart).

Excerpts from the book "Inside a Circus Heart"

When – as an effect of the cultural-political climate spreading in Sweden and Europe – actors within other art forms are urged in various ways to adopt an entrepreneurial approach and find new methods of working, it is exciting to see how contemporary circus is moving in the opposite direction, towards the field of art, better equipped thanks to the long tradition of entrepreneurship it has under its belt.

The book “Inside A Circus Heart” was written as part of a research project where Tilde Björfors and Kajsa Balkfors shed light on how contemporary circus as an art form has inspired Cirkus Cirkör's transgressive and entrepreneurial work method.

The acrobat encourages us to dare more than we dare, and the clown teaches us to turn failure into a success. During its explosive evolution, Cirkus Cirkör has consistently found its tools and values ​​for the roles of artist, educator and entrepreneur in the circus arts.

In ‘Inside A Circus Heart’, Tilde Björfors and Kajsa Lind summarize the most important takeaways from this journey. Contrary to political teenagers and current notions that art should be more business-inspired, Cirkus Cirkör has through its life curve illustrated that it is indeed possible to build and manage a company more artistically.

Out of our key concept ‘qualitative madness’, the ideas we want to actualize and have the privilege of delivering are born. ‘Individualism with solidarity’ protects our right to be unique, to make the choices we make and to cooperate across boundaries. And ‘cocky commitment’ is necessary to creating conditions we are lacking in society or in ourselves.