Richard Watts  | www.performing.artshub.com.au  |  Tuesday 25 February, 2014

The creative development fund is the latest initiative from the City of Gold Coast in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The City of Gold Coast and the Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association (ACAPTA) are calling for applications from the region’s circus and physical theatre artists for a new creative development grant of up to $10,000.

Announced on Friday, the new initiative is designed to strengthen Queensland’s burgeoning circus sector and inspire new collaborations and creative projects. It will also celebrate the unique cultural identity of the Gold Coast, one of the fastest growing cities in Australia and the location for a forthcoming one-day conference for members of the Queensland circus and physical theatre sector in late March.

The Gold Coast was selected as the host of ACAPTA’s ‘Queensland sector Sesh’ following the success of a similar meeting in Victoria last November.

‘Our city’s culture is distinctly Gold Coast. One of the things that defines us is that we have a love of the outdoors, physical activity and our natural environment,’ Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate told artsHub.

‘When we noticed that the Brisbane ACAPTA Sesh venue was “to be confirmed”, we were a bit cheeky and picked up the phone to organisers and said – “how about we have it on the Gold Coast?”

‘Hosting the Sesh enables us to focus on the physical theatre and circus sector on the Gold Coast, to uncover the artists that live here and to network them with artists from across the country.

‘The $10,000 commission enables us to directly support some of these relationships to blossom into new work that is distinctly Gold Coast,’ Tate said.

Circus and physical theatre artists at any stage in their career are invited to apply to the creative development program. Application guidelines and selection criteria are detailed at the City of Gold Coast’s Cultural Online website.

The Mayor said the City encouraged applications from local artists that include national artists as collaborators or outside eyes.

‘By doing this we hope to use this commission as an opportunity to develop local skills and talent,’ he said.

‘We [also] hope to support some local artists to develop a new work that could potentially have an outcome at one of our festivals or events in the future. We hope to kick start some collaborations, support emerging artists and companies. In the long run we see that work like this has the potential to increase our export of cultural product.’

ACAPTA Director Gail Kelly welcomed the announcement of the creative development fund.

‘ACAPTA is delighted that the City of Gold Coast is leading Australia by implementing an initiative which sees real investment in the development of the circus arts in this region,’ she told artsHub. ‘The creative development commission will support a group of independent artists, or a small company, or emerging artists to develop a new circus work over the next 12 months, and this is exciting. We hope that other councils will follow the City of Gold Coast’s example by supporting their local circus artists to make new work.’

Based around a 57 kilometre stretch of coastline and its subtropical hinterland, the Gold Coast is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 12 million visitors annually.

The City of Gold Coast, which is due to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, last year released its Culture Strategy 2023, a blueprint for the development of the region’s arts ecology. Council also announced the winning bid for the region’s new $300 million Cultural Precinct last November; the precinct is intended to become the city’s pivotal place for people to engage with arts, culture and each other.

Image: Circus artists image via Shutterstock