Belfast Community Circus School

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Coordinates: 54°36′07″N 5°55′34″W / 54.602°N 5.926°W / 54.602; -5.926 Belfast Community Circus School teaches young people from Belfast and its surrounding areas a variety of circus skills. The school's director is Will Chamberlain.


The Belfast Community Circus School produces a number of shows featuring young people each year. Performances take place in the Circus School and on the streets, including annual shows in the Festival of Fools. The Circus School also programmes a season of street theatre running each Sunday over the summer months in Cotton Court in the heart of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Acts featured are a combination of artists based in Belfast and visiting artists from Europe, USA and Australia. In addition, the Belfast Community Circus School has established a social economy trading wing called Premiere Circus. This operates as an agency securing work for artists based in Belfast who work across Ireland.


BCCS was set up in 1985 by Jim Webster, Donal McKendry and Mike Moloney (1953 - 2013[1]) to promote personal and community development through the teaching of circus skills. Throughout the height of the Troubles, BCCS was able to stage successful cross community projects across Northern Ireland. For more than a decade, BCCS operated workshops and created shows in a variety of venues ranging from church halls to community centres and the Crescent Arts Centre. In 1999 the Circus School took a massive step forward when it moved into Ireland's first dedicated circus building in the heart of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter - an area of the city centre promoting arts and culture.[2] Since moving into the Gordon Street premises, BCCS has seen a massive growth in all aspects of its work including youth circus, professional development for artists, performances and outreach work.[3]


BCCS has many outreach programmes which involves travelling to youth and community centres to take workshops. They have programmes throughout Belfast and further afield. One programme they started in Lisburn has now become its own Circus School and functions separately from BCCS.

Links abroad[edit]

BCCS has links with many overseas circus schools, and often organises trips to visit them.[4] One of the most notable links is with Australia. Two trips have been organised in recent years to train at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne, and other destinations have included Lima, Peru.[5] Also, members of Circus Oz have visited Belfast and trained members of BCCS.


  1. ^–-2013 Obituary Notice in Arts Professional
  2. ^ "Magic ring - When the circus school came to town it brought new hope and skills to Belfast's children", The Guardian, 13 October 1999 p26
  3. ^ "Efforts to embrace the children on margins", News Letter (Belfast), 6 March 2003, p11
  4. ^ "A low blow: how the insurance industry has taken the 'wow' out of a high-flying community circus", The Guardian, 25 September 2002, p 12 (Society)
  5. ^ "Young Belfast circus performers travel to Peru to show off tricks of the trade", Belfast Telegraph, 4 April 2007, p1

External links[edit]