Plan for circus academy beats funding target

Members of Full Cirqle, from left, Shona Conacher, Ron Oliveira, Julie Laerkholm (up), Kristina Pipova (down) and Rob Thorburn show off their skills. Picture: Greg Macvean
Members of Full Cirqle, from left, Shona Conacher, Ron Oliveira, Julie Laerkholm (up), Kristina Pipova (down) and Rob Thorburn show off their skills. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Organisers behind ambitious proposals to transform a warehouse into the country’s first dedicated centre for circus acts have smashed their original funding target.

Dubbed Full Cirqle, the performing hub on Baileyfield Crescent, Portobello, will be home to some of the Capital’s biggest circus companies and is set to boast a wide array of state-of-the-art facilities, including a spacious barn kitted out for aerial training and a mirrored dance room.

Performers backing the scheme had originally hoped to stump up £5000 in just two weeks to fund the new centre, but after an internet fundraising drive attracted an influx of cash donations their total now stands at £6300 – after only seven days.

And now the project organisers have promised to host a party to celebrate the hub’s opening on May 10 – with the whole community invited.

The opening gala will include introductory workshops focusing on acrobatics and circus skills, as well as a demonstration from the professional performers behind the centre.

When completed, it is hoped Full Cirqle will be home to seven different circus companies and up to 50 individual members, who will all have 24/7 access to training and rehearsal space.

Director Julie Laerkholm said it felt “fantastic” to have exceeded the target so quickly.

She said: “We found a bottle of bubbly the other day and popped it down at the building site and had a little party. It felt really good.

“We’re putting together a taster of what it’s going to be like for the opening night, and we want the evening to finish off with a display – a sort of gala show – so that we can demonstrate different acts from our members.

“The local community are quite excited. We’ve had inquiries about running classes and renting out spaces, which is great.”

And she revealed plans to use the extra cash to “make the centre even better” – with a new target of £7500 set up to raise enough money to install taps, flooring, insulation and central heating.

Members will also be asked to vote on any other equipment they would like to see at the centre, with an acrobatic lunge line – a safety harness for performing high in the air – currently topping the list.

The new space was secured by Capital arts charity Out of the Blue, which sublets the building to the performers, just days before dozens of circus artists lost their home at the Portobello-based Arts Factory following a demolition order to make way for a supermarket.

Geoff Lynn, chair of Portobello Community Council, said plans for the circus hub had “captured imaginations” throughout the local community.

He said: “It’s great to see these units being made use of, and this is a really creative way to make use of them. It’s great that they’ve been able to find somewhere to set up their circus equipment.

“From what I’ve gathered by the online reaction, people are pleased to see something like this being funded.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com