Richard Watts  |  www.artshub.com.au  |  Tuesday 22 October, 2013

ACAPTA is holding the first in a series of national sector meetings in Melbourne with follow-up events in other cities next year.

The Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association (ACAPTA) is holding a series of industry forms across Australia over the next 12 months, with the first meeting to be held in Melbourne on Friday 8 November at Abbotsford Convent.

The Melbourne meeting will feature updates from key industry representatives discussing the major issues facing the circus and physical theatre sector nationally, a series of provocations and discussions, and an opportunity to identify and discuss issues particular to those attending the event.

‘I think it’s really important that the sector has conversations with each other about the way forward for circus arts in Australia … Traditionally ACAPTA used to run a biennial conference in the past, which the sector came to, but that’s got unrealistic in terms of costs, so I decided to focus it on each state, so each state could develop their individuality or their uniqueness in relation to the circus art, because there’s different needs, say, in Brisbane to Melbourne,’ ACAPTA Director Gail Kelly told artsHub.

The last biennial ACAPTA conference was held in Sydney in 2010, since which time the discourse among the circus and physical theatre sector nationally has been conducted more informally, at events such as the recent Mullum Circus Festival.

Kelly said one of the reasons a national series of sector meetings was being instigated was to ensure such discussions could happen in a more formal, focused context.

‘We’ve had no real development in infrastructure or development for over 10 years, and I think we need to determine what we need to move forward, so the emphasis is on getting an action plan; it’s about consultation and the sector deciding what we want and need – not that we’re going to get it necessarily, but I think it’s important that we have a strategy and a plan to move forward as a community, as an art form community.’

Numbers at the session have deliberately been kept low, capped at 60 people, in order to keep the day’s program manageable.

‘All the key companies will be there; Circus Oz, NICA, Westside, Fruit Flies and a fairly good balance of independent practitioners, because while we have funded companies we also have a fairly large majority of the sector being independent artists or running small unfunded companies. And they’re all being represented, which is really exciting,’ Kelly said.

Additional ACAPTA meetings will be held in other capital cities in 2014. A Perth session is planned during the Western Australian Circus Festival in late January, Brisbane will follow at an as yet undetermined time.

‘One of the criticisms about the circus sector which I always think is interesting, particularly from the funding bodies, is that we’re divided, that we’re not united as a sector, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.’

Photo: Westside Circus
Image: Ryan Chow, City Of Melbourne