Slow Thinking

We are inviting Circus artists to a series of open, held spaces for discussion – driven by topics that you feel preoccupied with at this time.

Upswing’s Slow Thinking is a series of collective, online conversations that respond to, and are driven by, the needs of the circus sector. These conversations are free to attend and serve as an open space for individuals working in the circus sector – freelance artists, educators, producers, directors and technicians – as well as circus organisations.


Session 5: Circus Snapshot
Wednesday 29th July, 11:00AM BST (GMT+1)


We are delighted to host Circus Snapshot for the next edition of Slow Thinking.

Circus Snapshot is a qualitative research project which was completed prior to lockdown in February 2020.  Commissioned by Crying Out Loud, funded by Arts Council England and led by Daisy Drury, its aim is to draw together the professional, subsidised circus sector and to begin to create new pathways for its development.

An Invitation to take action together
Since the completion of the Circus Snapshot research, we have all been forced to navigate the unfolding impact of Covid-19 and we may need to reimagine how we continue to create, develop and perform circus in a new landscape.
The next Slow Thinking event is envisaged as an opportunity to discuss the 7 Missions that emerged from the Circus Snapshot research, and to pull together – as a sector – refreshed, relevant actions that we can take forward through sector-wide collaborative working groups.

The 7 Circus Snapshot Missions:

1. Build the reputation of circus;
2. Establish a national database;
3. Create a national programme of residencies and development opportunities;
4. Create a collaborative touring network;
5. Plan and deliver a range of networking and showcase events;
6. Design and deliver a sector wide diversity action plan;
7. Link and collaborate with the youth circus sector and those working in circus education

This edition of Slow Thinking will be larger than the previous ones. During the meeting, we will separate into breakout rooms, each hosted by a member of the sector, to discuss specific Missions. When you book, you will be required to select the breakout room you wish to attend based on the Missions listed above. Please note we’ve added an additional breakout entitled Wild Card; an open space to bring any other topic and actions you wish to talk about that aren’t included in the above 7 Missions.

We ask that you come prepared to participate and push actions forward by first exploring the full Circus Snapshot findings:




Session 4: Horizon Scanning
Wednesday 17th June 2020, 11:30AM BST (GMT+1)

Slow Thinking 4 continued to deepen the discussion around the processes of creating work. The session was split into two groups, with participants deciding which group they wanted to attend.

Circus Artist Angeliki Meli drew on personal experience to host a group in considering the strategies of creating work at a distance or online, focusing on process rather than product. Participants were encouraged to bring and discuss works-in-progress. Kate Webb facilitated a conversation on the ways we can equip artists for an uncertain future in a relevant and responsive way, asking ‘We don’t know how long our sector will take to recover so what skills are important? How do we articulate what we do and what we know to the wider sector?’.

The session welcomed training providers, as well as emerging artists, graduates and students.

Watch Session 4 (A) – Creating Online

Watch Session 4 (B) – Training Artists of the Future

Wednesday 27th May 2020, 11:30AM BST (GMT+1)

Session 3 focused on The Future – big topic! We shifted the structure of the conversation slightly and plan to host ‘breakout rooms’. These breakouts encompassed the various strands we’ve touched upon so far: audiences & engagement, creation & digital, learning & development and what the future may look like for shows in venues.

Watch Session 3 (A) – Creation in the Digital Space

Watch Session 3 (B) – Training Artists for the Future

Watch Session 3 (C) – Digital R&D

Wednesday 6th May 2020, 11:30AM BST (GMT+1)

Session 2 asked “What are the qualities and needs of work online or on the screen?”. We explored this in terms of work for the screen, and in terms of curation or creating in the digital space:
Circus and Film : What does quality mean and what does it look like? What features become significant – choreography and circus skills? Production and framing? Concept and story?  
Circus and Digital : What are the creative possibilities of Circus in the digital space?

This session included contributions and provocations from: Donna Close, creative director and cultural strategist; Joumana Mourad, IJAD Dance; Raphael Herault & Summer Hubbard, Double Take Cinematic Circus; and Mark Morreau, cinematographer & digital artist.

Watch Session 2

View the One-Pager Summary of Session 2

Tuesday 21st April 2020, 11:00AM BST (GMT+1)

In our first session, we explored circus at a distance. The current situation has forced us to think about what happens when we are unable to share live collective experiences. What are the alternatives that satisfy the needs we have for community, for watching circus, learning and for developing new ideas? 

This session included contributions and provocations from: Kate Hartoch, Circus City Festival; Amelia Cavallo, Quiplash; Charlie Wheeller, NetFLIPS; Mark Morreau, Cinematographer and Digital Artist; Rapael Herault and Summer Hubbard; and Joe Fearn, CircusMASH. 

Watch Session 1

View the One-Pager Summary of Session 1




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