Custom-built circus centre to open in Brisbane in 2021

By Richard Watts, ArtsHub
Tuesday 4 August, 2020

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A custom-built circus training centre, operated by Queensland’s largest youth arts organisation Flipside Circus, is set to open in Brisbane next year.

The new space will be an important addition to the city’s thriving circus ecology, said Robert Kronk, CEO and Creative Director of Flipside Circus.

‘One of the main pillars that Flipside is built on is engaging with and supporting our fellow circus artists and independent artists, and it’s really important for us to build that into the new space – it will be somewhere that people can train in and work in,’ he said.

The new centre has been designed with the needs of Brisbane’s thriving circus community in mind as much as the training needs of Flipside’s young artists, Kronk continued.

‘Circus artists don’t need office space so much anymore, but they certainly need rehearsal space, training space, workshop space and space in which to build a show. And storage too –you need somewhere to park your set and your apparatus, when a show’s in that touring cycle of getting out and about and coming home for a few months and heading off again. We really want to build all that into the fabric of the building,’ he told ArtsHub.

To be located at Northshore’s Riverfront Event Space, the new circus centre will provide space for Flipside’s community and social circus training programs as well as the creation of new productions.

‘While I can’t give too much away about this innovative new facility, I can say that once Flipside’s new home is completed, it will become a landmark for the arts and really cement Queensland’s position as a world-leader in circus skills development,’ Kronk said.

Incorporating canvas and shipping containers as well as more conventional construction elements, the building’s completed design is still under wraps but has been specifically developed with circus in mind.

‘I think it will be pretty unique. What we’re excited about and what I can tell you about the space is that we’re going to use an awful lot of prefabricated and modular building materials. Both the form and the function of the space will revolve around circus, and we’ll be able to put it up and build it in stages. So we can be using it straight away because of the fact that it’s modular and flexible, and that marriage of form and function is really exciting for us,’ said Kronk.

 

‘Once Flipside’s new home is completed, it will become a landmark for the arts and really cement Queensland’s position as a world-leader in circus skills development.’

 

‘Everything that we’re doing is about circus functionality and making sure that we can rig off all of our surfaces, and that the space is flexible and can work for multiple users in multiple different configurations. So it’s really exciting. It’s a really exciting time for us.’

The building’s construction will not be adversely impacted by COVID-19, Kronk continued.

‘The fact that it is modular means we are not being delayed and the project’s not going to stop. We’re going to keep going. We may change, we may stretch out some of the fit-out for example, so instead of fitting out straight away the fit-out might span 12 months. And some of the space may not be the same footprint that we had originally hoped, but we’re not going to miss by much, and again because it’s modular, we can actually add those elements in later when we can.’

Flipside expects to move into the new building in the first half of 2021, if construction continues as planned.

‘We want to be moving over into the new space in the first half of next year – which is pretty ambitious, but our original build schedule was to be in that space in January-February. So that has blown out a little bit, but not too far. At the moment, our timelines are still looking pretty good,’ said Kronk.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT & A POP-UP SPACE

The new circus training centre has been supported by a $1 million grant through the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

Federal Member for Brisbane, Trevor Evans, said: ‘This is an important step towards Brisbane having a permanent, dedicated home for circus arts; a project the Morrison Government is proudly supporting. I can’t wait to see the evolution of this space over the coming months, and the many opportunities it will present for circus performers and audiences in Brisbane.’

Read: Why circus arts and festivals are a match made in heaven

Until the new building is ready, Flipside has relocated to a temporary space at Northshore in Hamilton, where classes, workshops and specialist training programs will continue as normal.

The take-up for Flipside’s current program has been greater than anticipated, a delighted Kronk told ArtsHub.

‘We’ve got around 200 people a week coming in at the moment, and training with us in small blocks so we don’t have too many people on site at any given time, but that’s phenomenal. It’s much more than we hoped – we were thinking that’s what we might reach by the end of the year, if we were lucky, or the beginning next year, but the response from our community has been remarkable,’ he said.

‘I think people are really keen to get back out and connect with each other in a safe and distanced way. Our community is so important to us, and it’s really gratifying to see what the community values coming together at Flipside, as well.’

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