The Board of Manegen on the report from the Swedish Arts Council

Last Tuesday January 16th Manegen had its first Board meeting this year. Among all the issues discussed, one point on the agenda was the report by the Swedish Arts Council concerning professional contemporary circus. We have decided upon two perspectives for our work onwards. One is about using the report as constructively as we can and get as much as possible out from it that can benefit our artistic field. We think that it is good that the report has been done, we have worked hard for it to be written, and we think that it describes many of the things lacking for our art form to develop and which the members of Manegen have raised since the founding of Manegen in 2008 – and even way before that. The other perspective concerns the discussions and stories having been put forward in connection with the publishing of the report by the Swedish Arts Council. Our view is that our mission is to listen to as many voices as we can from our art form in general and from the members of Manegen in particular, to collect opinions and find different ways of gathering information that can be used moving forward. This will take time and demand clever solutions, we know that since we did the beginning of a mapping back in 2014-2015.

In this letter you find a short overview of headlines from the report by the Swedish Arts Council, our plan right now and the background explaining why the report was written.

We hope to see you at the Members’ meeting on February 6th. It will also be broadcasted live for those of you who cannot be there. Please get in contact with us before the meeting if you have questions or issues to raise:

Many greetings,
The Board of Manegen (Linda Beijer, Klara Mossberg, Anna Ljungqvist, Kiki Muukkonen, Walter Ferrero, Virginia Librado Gallego, Pernilla Appelqvist, Camilla Rud, Eva Jansson, Olivia Hultman, Linus Ahlbin, Karin Melin).

Summary of headlines from the report by the Swedish Arts Council:
Obstacles (for the development of contemporary circus)
– Lack of structures for production, intermediation, arrangements and touring

– Lack of resources
– Insufficient knowledge among promoters, decision makers and practitioners.

– Give more companies the possibility to develop in Sweden
– Hard competition about resouces
– Geographical concentration to Stockholm
– Insufficient opportunities for shows/performing acts in Sweden
– Lack of intermediary link between companies and promoters
– Lack of knowledge

Suggestions and the need for actions
– To enhance the expertise of promoters, performing arts institutions, politicians, officials and practitioners.

– To boost efforts to promote contemporary circus through a strong branch organization/industry body and by highlighting the important work of the Circus consultant and advisers.

– To help create better conditions for production through increased public funding, as well as prioritising development grants to regional cultural activities under the collaborative cultural model.

– To creat better conditions for including ’other performing arts’ in the collaborative cultural model by amending the wording of the regulations governing financial support.

– To encourage the development of circus as an art form at Swedish performing arts institutions.

– To create better production conditions in the form of improved access to training and rehersal facilities, residencies and daily excercise for circus artists.

– To enhance public access to contemporary circus, including a collaborative structure for touring productions.

.To clarify Riksteatern’s mandate to help develop and promote contemporary circus as an art form.

Our present plan
Manegen is a grassroots organization founded by its members. We aim at creating better working conditions and possibilities for our members, and a stronger position both within the arts and on the market. Our next step when it comes to the report by the Swedish Arts Council is now to go through their proposals at the Members’ meeting on February 6th and together discuss how we should work to turn the proposals that we think are good into reality. What is best for the development of our branch/art form? How should the proposals be financed? Which proposals are the most important for us to work for?

Background to the production of the report
2015, DOCH, Manegen, Cirkus Cirkör and Subtopia start the work to write a petition to the Minister for Culture and Democracy which was signed by some fifty actors in the circus/culture field. This is the introduction of the petition:
”Proposal to the MInistry of Culture concerning an assignment to survey the Swedish contemporary circus and to present a cultural policy action plan for the development of the art form”

To: The Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke Date: June 1st 2016

We, the signatories of this petition, are of the opinion that a mapping or survey of the professional contemporary circus is very desirable. In connection to this we suggest that the government takes a grip of how the art form can improve its possibilites to develop in Sweden and that a forwardlooking action program is presented.

Such a mission would gather the practitioners of the art form, the free cultural life and interested representatives from existing cultural institutions and other organizations from municipal, regional and national level, in order to discuss the development of the art form. Through the co-ordination of resources on different levels positive effects can be reached for professional practitioners, artists, groups, educational organizers, audience, the participation of children and youth, promoters, stages, the international co-operation, exchange between art forms, etc.

A possible course of action is that the Swedish Arts Council conducts a task of mapping and producing a cultural policy action plan for the contemporary circus, preferably starting during 2017. ”

2016, June 1st , the petition is sent to Alice Bah Kuhnke.

2016, December 22nd: The Swedish Arts Coucil is commissioned as a condition of its budget allocation from central government for 2017 to produce a special report. This task is decsribed as follows: ”The Swedish Arts Council was commissioned as a condition of its budget allocation from central government for 2017 to produce a special report surveying the status of professional contemporary circus and publicly funded initiatives in this field. The remit was also to assess the possible need and propose funding models for additional government initiatives.”

2017, November 30th: The Swedish Arts Council publishes: Professional Contemporary Circus – a survey.

2017, December 4th: Manegen organizes a Members’ meeting to which the Swedish Arts Council is invited to present the report.

2018, February 6th: Manegen organizes a Members’ meeting to discuss the report.