Focus Circus France is an initiative that is part of Flanders’ international cultural policy. In 2020, Prime Minister Jan Jambon made the decision to focus on the internationalisation of the circus arts in Flanders, with a geographical focus on France for the period of 2021-2023. France is Europe’s leading country when it comes to contemporary circus and the most important market in terms of performance opportunities for Flemish circus companies. Circuscentrum Vlaanderen is coordinating the project and, together with a number of players from the sector, drawing up the programme in close consultation with the Flemish Department of Culture, Youth and Media.
In the roll-out of this multi-year project, initiatives will be set up with a focus on knowledge exchange, the distribution of Flemish circus productions and the increase of their visibility in the French cultural network. In the long term, the project contributes to the professionalisation of the Flemish circus sector and an increase in its international visibility. To achieve this, collaborations will be established with key players in the French circus sector and ways will be sought to ensure these collaborations are maintained after the project ends. To this end, Circuscentrum Vlaanderen is working together with a number of important organisations in the French circus field: the national centres for circus arts, les Pôles Cirques Nationaux (PCN), and the national centres for art and the public space Centres Nationaux des Arts de la Rue et l’Espace Public (CNAREP). Initiatives are being launched in a number of regions in cooperation with these partners.
La Cour des Belges
The first initiative of the Focus Circus France project was launched at the street theatre festival Chalon dans la rue in July 2022. This annual festival takes place in and around Chalon-sur-Saône and has become one of the most important meetings in France concerning art in the public space. For each edition, around 160 companies are featured in a programme lasting 5 days. The festival is organised by L’Abbatoir, one of France’s twelve national circus centres for art and the public space. It is the ideal place for circus companies to bring their performances to the attention of programmers.
A number of Belgian circus companies united as a collective to set up a Belgian square at the festival, La Cour des Belges. For five days, festival visitors – including numerous French and foreign programmers – were able to discover these twelve circus companies on the Belgian square, which was completely built and decorated by the companies themselves. La Cour des Belges was supported in part by Circuscentrum as part of the Focus Circus France project. More info and an ‘aftermovie’ can be found here.