The following is a republished press release … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

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WHO: Circus Culture

WHAT: Circus School Opening Announcement and Crowdfunding Campaign

WHERE: Circus Culture 116 W Green Street Ithaca 14850

Ithaca, NY – (May 29, 2015) –  Circus Culture, Ithaca’s very own circus school, will open to the public this July.  Circus Culture’s mission is to provide circus education and opportunities to all in and around Ithaca, NY.

The organization invites individuals and groups to engage with circus as an art form and a life tool through classes, workshops, performances, parties, memberships, camps, and more.  Circus disciplines that will be taught include: Aerial (static trapeze, silks, lyra), Juggling (scarves, balls, rings, clubs, contact), Props (diabolo, flower sticks, plates, hoola hoop), Acrobatics (handstands, group pyramids, tumbling), Tightwire (low and high!), Equilibristics (unicycle, feathers, rolling globe), Clowning, and more.

Why Circus? Historically, the circus has been a place where anyone and everyone is welcome and the possibilities of human potential are expanded. It comes to town and becomes the central gathering place, a community hub, and a source of inspiration.  As a hybrid of art and sport, circus is comprised of a myriad of disciplines, from juggling to trapeze, partner acrobatics to tightwire.

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As a result, it not only includes people of varied skills and abilities, but actually requires this diversity to be whole. When practicing circus arts trust, coordination and communication skills are experientially developed and risk taking curiosities are played out in a safe and controlled environment.

Circus imparts a myriad of developmental skills on participants including; object permanence, resilience, and physical literacy. The non-competitive yet physical nature of the form makes it a unique and beneficial outlet for all ages.

Circus Culture is located in Press Bay Alley, the vibrant block of businesses at 116 W Green Street. The organization is currently raising $25,000 via the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to match a donation of start up funds that were acquired earlier this year. The funds raised will pay for mats, aerial equipment, juggling equipment, energy efficient lighting, and a fresh coat of paint for the space.

Perks of the campaign include everything from stickers to class cards, year long memberships to living room performances.  The circus school will boost the local community and economy in downtown Ithaca by increasing foot traffic, providing diverse entertainment options, and increasing activities for kids, teens, and adults in the downtown area.

Circus Culture has plans for all kinds of gatherings including circus movie nights, morning dance parties, and guest circus artists circus from around the USA. Once the school is established specific programs will be developed to serve individuals with special needs, elders, and rural youth.

The presence of Circus Culture highlights a growing trend of circus education being available around the USA.  Historically circus skills were passed down through family lines or via apprenticeship, however the past 30 years has seen an explosion of institutions dedicated to circus learning in the US and around the world. The American Youth Circus Organization’s 2010 census found that there were 200 circus schools in the USA and a growth rate of 10 new programs per year.  France alone has 500 circus schools, and there are higher education institutions that grant college degrees in circus on 6 continents.  Circus Culture was modeled with inspiration from successful circus schools in cities of a similar scale to Ithaca – such as SHOW in Easthampton, MA and the New England School of Circus Arts in Brattleboro, VT.

Circus Culture’s founder, Amy Cohen, has been cultivating the vision for what is now Circus Culture since she was a sophomore at Ithaca College where she earned her degree in Theatre Arts Management in 2008.  Her post college journey brought her to California to study at the San Francisco Circus Center, to London as a Fulbright Scholar researching the emergence of contemporary circus in the UK, and to NYU where she created her own Masters Degree program at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study titled “Circus as a tool for social change, education, and creative expression”. Amy’s seminal thesis paper helped build the case for the first circus university in the USA which is anticipated to open in Portland, Maine within the next two years. Concurrent to founding and directing Circus Culture, Amy serves as the Executive Director of the American Youth Circus Organization, a national 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to promoting the participation of youth incircus arts and supporting circus educators.  She has spoken about circus education all over the world.

Amy has been instigating circus events in Ithaca for the past three years including the Ithaca Community Circus, Circus Classes at CSMA, and the hugely popular ArtCircus.  She has been teaching circus for 13 years, is a Ring Three CircusYoga Teacher, and has a 120 Social Circus Training Certificate from Cirque du Soleil.  Amy will be teaching classes for all ages at Circus Culture and focusing on aerial, and youth, teen, adult, and family multi-disciplinary circus classes. She is joined by an experienced group of local circus educators who will be teaching subjects such as a hoop dance, aerial yoga, partner acrobatics, juggling, and more.

Circus Culture’s space is in the Ithaca Journal building where the printing press used to be located. In June the final construction phase will be completed. The space will then be outfitted with mats and a professional circus rigger will travel to Ithaca to install all of the aerial equipment.  The space will open to the public in July with four different summer camp options: a half day play for 4-6 year olds (7/20 – 7/24), All Things Circus Camp for 7-13 year olds (7/27- 7/31 and 8/31-9/4), Acro and Aerial Camp for 10-18 year olds (8/3-8/7), and a Family Camp for all ages (8/1 – 8/2).  Full class programming and memberships will start in the fall of 2015. An announcement about the opening celebration will be released later in the summer.

Ithaca is well primed for a Circus School. The Downtown Ithaca 2020 Strategic Plan focuses on revitalizing the urban core, increasing entertainment and activity options for all ages, and increasing foot traffic. Circus Culture will do all of these things and more – everyone at Circus Culture is honored to be contributing to the vitality of downtown.

Circus Culture’s crowdfunding campaign will take place from May 28th – June 26th of 2015 and the organization is raising $25,000 in order to ensure that the business thrives.  Camp registration is currently open at circusculture.org/camps and Fall programming will be announced shortly. For information about Circus Culture’s crowdfunding campaign, to sign up for camps, or to learn more about the organization visit www.circusculture.org. For interviews, photos, and further press inquiries, please contact Amy Cohen at info@circusculture.org or via phone at 914.441.8834.  Crowdfunding campaign can be found at http://igg.me/at/circusculture.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.