Social Circus

What is Social Circus?


As adapted by American Circus Educators Association of Cirque du Soleil’s definition: Social social circuscircus is a social change intervention that uses the circus arts as a tool for fostering personal and social development of identified “at-risk” individuals. The primary goal of social circus is to nurture participant’s
 self-esteem and trust in others, teaching them social skills, inspiring them to become active citizens, and helping them to express their creativity and explore their potential.

Social circus goals are primarily focused on the personal and social development of the participants from an identified oppressed population (e.g.: “at-risk” youth, survivors of violence or trauma, indigenous peoples, refugees, people with disabilities, homeless, low-income, or incarcerated individuals, etc.).

social circusSocial circus programs typically partner with other organizations (i.e., social, health & educational services, government, schools, foundations) to maximize participant safety and connection to needed resources (e.g., food, transportation, social work, tutoring); secure funding to enable participation by a significant proportion of participants who would not otherwise have the means; recruit and sustain participation by specific identified population(s) “at-risk”; support community-building and/or cross-cultural connections; and evaluate program effectiveness beyond the acquisition of circus skills.

Social circus organizations are typically non-profit organizations that are primarily dedicated to social circus work and “at-risk” populations. Social circus programs may also operate as components of broader circus organizations or other type of organizations.

Since 2002, Amazing Grace CIRCUS! defined itssocial circus organization as a cooperative, uniquely personal cross-cultural community / social experience where children and teens take center ring in their lives, education and community.

Our participants come from all walks of ‘at-risk’ life. Examples of programs we have created out of community need over the past 15 years:

  • The Sensory Circus: for children on the autism spectrum. Partner Organization: Autism Speaks
  • Circus for Life: gang-prevention program held during lunchtime; participants identified by guidance counselors. Partner Organizations: Nyack Middle School, Episcopal Charities of NY, and Grace Church Nyack
  • CircusGYM: in-school circus arts skills taught during 3rd grade PE class; school selection based on 70%+ students receiving free/reduced-rate lunch. Partner Organizations: West Haverstraw Elementary School and The Arts Council of Rockland

social circus