12 award-winning European circuses ask due recognition of sector from European Commission in joint letter

“We expect the next European Commission to put circus arts on the same long-deserved pedestal as related arts (such as theatre, opera and dance), and give this 250-year-old cultural sector the same long-term, meaningful recognition as the other arts get,” wrote twelve BigTopLabel certified European circus companies in a joint letter sent to the President of the European Commission on the occasion of World Circus Day on 20 April, with the support of MEP István Ujhelyi, the European Circus Association and the Word Circus Federation (Fédération Mondiale du Cirque).

BigTopLabel is a quality assurance certificate that was developed in recent years by independent circus, legal and animal welfare experts at the initiative of MEP István Ujhelyi, and on the basis of which up to three European circus companies are examined and certified every year. So far, twelve European circuses have been awarded this distinction, which is presented to the circuses concerned every year in the European Parliament.

The letter, signed by the BTL circuses, notes that their letter to the President of the outgoing Commission with their suggestions and comments is a form of review. They stress that, over the last ten years or so, much progress has been made in recognizing the European circus arts, in strengthening the rightful visibility of circus arts and in consolidating cooperation in this cultural sector, but that the next European Commission would have to take much more tangible action.

In the letter, the circuses ask the next European Commission to create the appropriate funding framework and dedicated EU programmes for traditional circuses. They also claim they expect the European Commission to be more open to the as yet untapped social and cultural potential that traditional circus arts represent in an unparalleled way and of which the BigTopLabel companies are an outstanding example every day.

The signatories also draw attention to the fact that the European Commission’s own study has found that 81% of European circus companies have never applied for European funding and 64% have never actually had any exposure to EU funding opportunities; and that one of the reasons for this may be that the current funding structure is mainly geared towards new generation/contemporary circus artists.

“We, the proud recipients of the BigTopLabel award, are writing to you jointly to offer our professional alliance and cooperation to the present and future leaders of the European Commission. The circus troupes we represent have proven their professionalism and commitment to European values and standards not only to millions of European citizens, but now also to EU decision-makers,” the BigTopLabel circuses write in the joint letter.

In addition to MEP István Ujhelyi and the professional organizations, the document was signed by the following circuses: Blackpool Tower Circus (UK); Circo Raluy Legacy (ES); Cirque Arlette Gruss (FR); Circus Balkanski (BG); Circus Brazil Jack (SE); Circus Knie (CH); Circus Krone (DE); Hungarian National Circus (HU); Circus Roncalli (DE); Richter Flórián Cirkusz (HU); Sirkus Finlandia (FI); Zippos Circus (UK).

Brussels – 19/04/2024

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