Artspace Lifespace / The Invisible Circus are one of just 12 applications to win funding from the highly competitive investment programme Imagination. One of the three funds available through Bristol City Council’s 2018 to 2022 Cultural Investment Programme, Imagination received more than 50 applications from organisations across the city.
“The Imagination funding is hugely helpful to us as small mainly self-funded arts organisations,” says Artspace Lifespace company manager Kathryn Chiswell-Jones. “We joined forces with our sister organisation The Invisible Circus to share resources across both of our organisations. The funding we receive has enabled us to hire a part-time Development Officer and Inclusion Officer, both of which enable us to increase our organisation’s resilience as well as develop our arts offer.
“Past Imagination funding enabled us to apply for further funding, which allowed us to run our free drop-in class Crafting Communities at SPACE, Old Market. Attendees to this class said it helped lift them, keep them going through difficult times and stave off depression, as well as helping them to express themselves in creative ways.
“Over the past two years, our Inclusion Team developed the Halt Harassment campaign with learning and sharing sessions at The Loco Klub and we look forward to sharing this learning more widely through outreach activities in 2020-2022.”
Sarah Pugh, Company Manager at The Invisible Circus and The Loco Klub, added, “Developing our spaces with people at the heart of them is hugely important to us and inclusion is a huge part of that. Our focus on creating an inclusive space is helping us provide “a place where people from the LGBTQ+ community could come together and dance the night away” [quote from Bristol24/7’s review of Erektek at The Loco Klub].
Current Artspace Lifespace / Invisible Circus plans include improvements to their facilities and residency offering for emerging artists, both at their circus headquarters Unit 15 and at The Loco Klub through their emerging artists’ residency programme Launch Pad. The company is also focusing on creating more resilience and a long-term funding strategy for Invisible Youth, a strand of The Invisible Circus dedicated to social circus, predominantly at Easton’s Felix Road Playground.
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Artspace Lifespace is a Registered Charity that recycles vacant, under-used and problem properties into thriving creative resources, working in partnership with artists, building owners, property developers, local communities and organisations to secure and re-cycle interesting, unusual and often difficult buildings as vibrant multi-use art venues.
Sister organisation The Invisible Circus traces its ethos to its roots as a street performance troupe. Having spent the 1990s exploring Europe’s rich performance culture and embracing a rich tapestry of traditions, The Invisible Circus has grown up in arts festivals, street performances, carnivals and independent creation spaces.
Other successful applicants to the Imagination fund included Theatre Bristol, St Pauls Carnival, Bristol Festivals, Redfest Bristol and Bristol Pride.
Top pic: Invisible Youth and young people at Felix Road Playground, Easton, created a Halloween Circus show in 2016