Unpack the Arts was a European project (2012-2014) that provided residencies for cultural journalists in the context of twelve major festivals programming contemporary circus. The goal of the project was to facilitate the circulation of knowledge and experience, to develop the critical discourses of its participants, and to further the role of the media within the circus arts and contemporary society. Cultural journalists, critics and chief editors from any form of media could apply for the project.

>> The articles from all the residencies are online. Read more.

>> The 'Guide to funding opportunities for cultural journalists' is online. Read more.


Why Unpack the Arts?

The space available for arts and culture in ‘classic’ media is simply disappearing. Artists, critics and cultural workers in general lament this situation. Our concern is not to bolster ticket sales, but is instead to support the intellectual recognition of the artistic work; to bring about the institutional recognition that such visibility implies; to create opportunities to share knowledge and to discuss and disagree on the arts; and to find the most efficient way of reaching out to the masses…

The circus arts don’t yet have a high level of intellectual, cultural and institutional recognition in Europe, either at the local or the national level. Therefore political and financial support to this sector is low and there are structural weaknesses. There are strong imbalances in comparison to other creative areas and when comparing the realities between regions/countries.

Despite their public success, the circus arts are not covered by abundant literature, academic research, in-depth articles, reviews, etc – and artists themselves often experience difficulties in producing theoretical writing that communicates their practice, their creative processes and their productions. They rarely have the chance to exchange with critics and experts from the performing arts on theoretical or conceptual terms.

Another reason is that many arts writers are clueless about contemporary circus. Cultural journalists don’t know the disciplines and techniques, and overall they lack the contextual understanding to tackle a piece's dramaturgical choices, to reference other productions, or to interview artists creating non text-based works.


What for?

>> To raise cultural journalists’ awareness of the contemporary circus scene by exposing them to artistic works and provoking discussions with key experts and artists – both on creation processes and on ways to engage with circus' audience

>> To create a community within the press who are aware of circus' vocabulary, history and influences, and who are able to produce literature and reviews of shows that encompass critical discourses on new trends and recognise the specific nature of circus dramaturgy

>> To offer media professionals ‘time and space’ to advance and explore their practice through intellectual encounters, artistic innovation within their work, and creative engagement across borders

>> To reach out to European citizens, in particular the ones who have a low level of cultural consumption and are usually under-represented at festivals and venues


Project leader & Co-organisers

Project leader of Unpack the Arts is Circuscentrum. Co-organisers are Copenhagen International Theatre, CIRCa, Subtopia, Mala prsa - Festival novog cirkusa, Les Halles de Schaerbeek, CircusInfo Finland, Circusstad Festival Rotterdam, Humorologie - Festival of Emotions and Crying out Loud. Read more.