The European Circus Charter

EuropeanCircusCharter FinalCouv WEBBoth an advocacy tool and a methodology, the European Circus Charter has been developed with the aim of promoting circus arts in public spaces throughout Europe, by suggesting good practices to which signatories – circuses, local governments and other hosting entities – may willingly commit themselves.

This article is also available in French.


The European Circus Charter aims at :

  • the recognition of circus as an art form, and as part of each European country’s culture
  • better hosting conditions for circuses
  • a better collaboration between performing sites owners and circus professionals


Recommendations to local authorities include identifying and making available new and suitable performing sites for circuses and focus on the importance of making circus a part of their cultural policies.

The Charter also suggests a procedure for the hosting of circuses, promoting “good practices” : these show as recommendations to both circus professionals and local authorities (and owners of performing sites).

History of the project

Following up on the Fresh Circus seminar of September 2008 as well as on the recommendations of the workshop called “Circulation of Big Tops in Europe and Regulations”, HorsLesMurs and Circostrada Network wished to reflect on a European document that would make it easier to host the circus and performing arts in the public space.

The scope of the project was outlined in 2009 : should it be a tool for awareness, a collection of main principles or a practical guide… the objective was to lay out its goals, content and form, taking as a departure point previously developed projects, such as the French charter for hosting circuses in towns « Droit de cité pour le cirque » (« Establishment for the circus”), and French good practices guide “Organiser un événement artistique dans l’espace public – Guide des bons usages » (« Organising an artistic event in the public space”).

Organising an artistic event in the public space – Practical Guide

Since stakes of hosting arts and peformances in the public space and hosting tented circuses raised very different issues, it was decided to address them separately. This gave way to two separate projects : on the one hand, a European working group was gathered to work on a European Circus Charter.

untitledOn the other hand, the « Guide des bons usages » written by José Rubio and Gentiane Guillot has been adapted and translated into English as « Organising an artistic event in the public space – Practical Guide”, which is now available and can be downloaded from both HorsLesMurs and Circostrada internet sites. It is lighter version of the French version (i.e. excluding references to French regulations) and it is also protected by copyright.

A European working group for the European Circus Charter

The European working group, which includes members and contributors from 10 different countries, belonging to both contemporary and classical circus, and which is coordinated by Circostrada Network, decided on the design and objectives of the European Circus Charter.

Pres1The writing of the European Circus Charter was carried out in 2010 and 2011, and deveral working sessions were organised :

  • 20-22 May 2010 in Stockholm (SE)
  • 16 November 2010 in Brussels (BE)
  • 21 January 2011 in London (GB)
  • 17-18 February in Stockholm (SE)
  • 4 March in Tournai (BE)
  • 11 April in Manchester (GB)
  • 12 April in Dublin (IE)
  • 4-7 May 2011, Helsinki (FI)


The final Charter was presented during the Circostrada seminar in Helsinki, in May 2011.

Implementation in European Countries

The next step of the project is implementation in European countries : this will be depending on the involvement of each country’s professionals.

It is suggested that country working groups be created, to decide upon the implementation procedure and methodology : it is important that these corresponds to each area’s professional, administrative, regulatory and political environments.


Any one willing to create / to contribute to a local working group may contact the European Project Coordinator, or a member of the European working group.

Questions and stakes to be taken into account by each working group

The French Charter “Droit de Cité pour le Cirque” was a major output of France’s Year of Circus arts : it was formally endorsed and signed in May, 2001 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Association of French Mayors, the National Federation of Towns or Communes for Culture and several trade unions.

The French Charter involded an adhesion procedure, followed-up and controled by the ministry of culture regional bodies : the local authorities would voluntarily adhere, and formallise this by signing the Charter. The circus companies and businesses would need to present an application file (including legal and administrative certificates as the performing livence, the tent’s security registry…).

Formal endorsmeent and adhesion procedures may or may not be relevant in each country : that will be for the each country working group to decide. Hereunder, 3 main questions that should be considered.

1 – Does the European text need to be adapted to the country’s specifics ?

It was the project’s objective to enable maximum flexibility in the implementation of the Charter, while keeping a common European document. Thus, the following adaptations may be considered :

the words and sentences that show in italics in the European text are identified as optional : they may be excluded from the country Charter. If need be, the country working group may request a corresponding version, without the undesired italics, to the European project Coordinator.

  • the Charter may be translated
  • the Charter may be enriched with appendices – additional details or country specific topics, such as eferences to local regulations, requested administrative authorisations, licenses or certificates) or with template documents
  • the Charter may be completed wit template documents to be also included as appendices in the country Charter, such as a template application
  • form for the circus, a template formal agreement between the hosting entity and the circus, etc.

2 – How will the European Circus Charter be advocated for at national level ?

The country working group members should strongly advocate for the use of the Charter, whithin their area of influence : this can be done individually. However the working group should decide upon the following items :

  • should a formal endorsement by national bodies be promoted, should an endorsement procedure be defined ?
  • what event, or communication actions could be carried out ?

 3 – What kind of follow-up is needed at local level ?

Will the Charter be complied with on a merely voluntary basis ? Should an adhesion procedure be defined – for local authorities, for circuses, for other parties ?


If adhesion procedures need to be defined, for local authorities (and performing site owners), for circuses, or for both:

  • is the adhesion a voluntary declaration ?`
  • or should criteria be met by the circus, in order to be eligible ? In that case
  • who should control the eligibility, following which process ?
  • which criteria should invalidate the adhesion ?
  • how / by whom should the adherents list be validated, controlled, kept up-to-date?

Working group members and contacts

Logo EuropeanCharter

European Charter Project Coordinator

  • Gentiane Guillot – HorsLesMurs, French national information centre for street arts and circus arts
  • Contact : 33 (0)1 55 28 10 04

Group members


  • Koen Allary – Circuscentrum
  • Pascale Loiseau – La FAR – Federation of professional street, circus and fairground arts companies
  • Benoit Van Oost – La Maison du cirque
  • Contributors : Fabien Audooren – ISTF, International Straattheaterfestival, Miramiro; Garpar Leclere – Les Baladins du miroir; Patrick Masset – Théâtre d’un jour; Catherine Vandenbroecke – Town of Tournai; Jean-Michel Flagotier – Arsenic; Jacques Remacle – Cie des nouveaux disparus; Christine Servais – Cirque Farrago


  • Tomi Purovaara – CIRKO-keskus
  • Lotta Vaulo – Finnish Circus Information Centre


  • Yannis Jean – SCC – Syndicat du cirque de création
  • Contributor : François Colombo – CITI – Centre International pour les Théâtres Itinérants


  • Contributor : Francesco Mocellin – Club Amici del Circo


  • Arie Oudenes – ECA- European Circus Association


  • Vilde Broen – Circus Village Network
  • Contributor : Sverre Waage – Cirkus Xanti


  • Verena Cornwall – Arts Council Ireland
  • Contributors : Monica Corcoran – Arts Council Ireland; David Duffy, Stephanie Duffy – Tom Duffy’s Circus; Charles O’Brien – Fossett’s Circus


  • Ricard Panadès – APCC – Catalan Association of Circus Professionals


  • Thorsten Andreassen, Johan Molin – Manegen – Federation for circus, variety and street performance
  • Contributors : Krister Lindgren – Varieté Teatern; Johan Vinberg – Swedish Circus Academy

United Kingdom

  • Verena Cornwall – Circus Development Agency
  • Contributors : Malcolm Clay – The Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain; Chloe Dear – NASA – National Association of Street Artists; Carol Gandey-Briggs – Gandey World Class Productions