Richard Watts  |  |  Monday 6 January, 2014

The internationally renowned circus company is inviting the public to tour their new, purpose-built home: ArtsHub peeks.

Circus Oz has waited a long time for a purpose-built home, one that meets the very particular needs of a place to train trapeze artists and acrobats.

The Company has finally fulfilled its dreams in a $15 million development, funded by an Arts Victoria capital grant in 2011. Blending existing buildings on the site of the former Collingwood TAFE with purpose-built structures, Circus Oz’s new home is built around two large rehearsal spaces, ensuring that circus arts are literally its central business. The company’s offices, wardrobe department, communal kitchen and other areas all look out over the main rehearsal space, so that wherever one ventures in the building, a visual reminder of its raison d’être is nearby.

To celebrate their long-awaited return to Collingwood, where some of the company’s earliest performances took place in March 1978, Circus Oz will be holding an open day at their new home on Saturday 29 March. The company will open the doors of their new home for a housewarming party featuring free juggling, hula hoop and circus skills workshops for children, as well as tours of the building, which has been designed by award-winning architects Lovell Chen. Visitors will also be able to watch members of the Circus Oz ensemble rehearsing on the day.

‘Circus Oz is excited to swing open our doors and welcome all of the community into our new home,’ said the company’s General Manager, Lou Oppenheim.

‘We want our new home in Collingwood to be full of life and laughter, and there is something here for everyone to enjoy.’

Under construction for the last two years, the new building’s rehearsal spaces will allow the Circus Oz artistic team to create and develop new shows under performance-like conditions. The site, located next door to popular live music venue The Tote and the City of Yarra’s Neighbourhood Justice Centre, will also enable the company to expand its public and community classes, programs and activities.

‘When we create a show, the last part of the creative team is always the audience. It’s like that for our home – the last building block has to be our community,’ Oppenheim said.

As previously reported by ArtsHub, the former TAFE site has been earmarked for development by the Victorian State Government as a new arts precinct hosting a mix of organisations and art forms. Circus Oz will be the major tenant.

Once the site has been formally opened, at a date to be confirmed, it will also host Circus Oz’s 100-year old Melba Spiegeltent, currently based in Melbourne’s Docklands. The Spiegeltent will operate as a live venue for new and emerging artists and support the development of contemporary circus, as well as Circus Oz’s numerous initiatives and programs. Parking and amenities for circus artists touring from interstate or overseas will also be available on the site.

Circus Oz Housewarming
Saturday 29 March, 11am – 4pm
50 Perry Street Collingwood

PHOTO: Circus Oz children’s classes: photo by Aaron Walker