2009 – date
Circus Central is a hub for circus artists and skills training based in Christ Church buildings, Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne. It is run by a charitable trust, the North East Circus Development Trust (NECDT) it is was founded by Helen Averley and Steve Cousins in 2009/10. The Board was chaired by Mike Summersby, with Shirley Mills taking on the role in 2016. Other original board members included, Frank Wilson, Dr John Wolstenholm, Peter Hornsey, Sarah Coxon and they were joined by Patrica Stead, Murphy Cobbing, Malcom Dix, and Andy Stephenson. The Trust was advised for in the early years by Brian Debnam who with his associate Jennifer Dewar had undertaken the initial feasibility study for Helen Averley in 2008.
Circus Central provides a range of regular and one off clubs and workshops for all children, youth and adults. The Church Hall has a permanent aerial rig which is suitable for a range of static skills as well as chinese pole. The School Hall is home to a weekly unicycle club, and other ground based skills sessions including advanced youth circus training. It is now established as a gathering point for amateur and professional circus enthusiasts. The club is similar to other circus/juggling clubs that take place across the world
On 1 November 2010 by Helen Averley and Steve Cousins, Circus Central’s directors, started Club Circus Central as a response to a desire for a regular night for jugglers in Newcastle to gather. Ewan Crichton was particularly keen on this club, helping to develop it. The Club runs on a Monday night at Circus Central. It is run on a volunteer basis and offers aerialists a place to train also. The space is gifted by Christ Church PCC and Christ Church School to help the circus community develop a strong base from the buildings in Shieldfield.
Initially Let’s Circus was the delivery partner of the Five Ring Circus youth project. In 2012 they were joined by Annabel Carberry, Rob Thorburn and Massi Rosetti to be lead circus teachers for the first youth circus troupe. In 2013: Robyn Hambrook, Claire Harvey, Nathan White and Dan Brown, were core to the team. With Hang Aerial Dance delivering Aerial and Rachel Kurtz delivering children aerial classes on Saturday mornings and Forma Fortis adult acrobatics.
The Trust received it’s first Core Funding via the Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund in April 2015, via the Community Foundation. The team of teachers remained
In September 2015 Claire Harvey developed the BTEC programme and 8 students were enrolled, ages 16 – 40. Circus Central became the only Circus in the country to be its own BTEC centre ( i.e. it delivers the qualification without the assistance of a higher education organisation.
On I April 2017, Claire Harvey became CEO, taking over from Helen Averley, and with Dan Adams (Data Technical) she over saw a reordering of the organisation. The Board had a recruitment drive in early 2018.
Circus Central with it’s partners, in partnership with the Christ Church PCC and School, have plans to develop the main Church Building into a multi-functional space suitable for circus, while remaining a place of worship.
Updated March 2018