More than £749,000 investment for the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle- under-Lyme to celebrate 250 years of modern circus

New Vic Theatre, Around the World in Eighty Days, image by Andrew Billington

Investment for Circus Past, Present and Future is part of the Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Programme 

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded £749,592 to hostCircus Past, Present and Future, a highlight of the 250 year celebrations of Philip Astley, the father of modern circus.

Thanks to new investment from our National Lottery supported Ambition for Excellence programme, the theatre will become the centre of the Circus 250 festivities during 2018 which will include an ambitious programme of exhibitions and installations, spectacular performances and professionally-led community projects.

Circus Past, Present and Future will bring to life the history of the local area by revealing Philip Astley’s extraordinary legacy and will further develop Newcastle-under-Lyme into a nationally recognised destination for dance, drama and circus.

The New Vic Theatre, alongside NoFit State Circus will work with partners Victoria & Albert Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme Building Improvement District, Newcastle Borough Council and Brampton Museum & Art Gallery to create borough-wide events reflecting on the past, present and future of British circus.

The Ambition for Excellent fund supports organisations and partnerships with production, commissioning or creative development projects that show potential for significant impact on the development of talent and leadership, and the growth of an ambitious arts infrastructure in England.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

“Ambition for Excellence supports the creation of outstanding work and we see the celebration of significant cultural moments as important. Circus Past, Present and Future promises to do just that. By using Circus 250 celebrations as a launch-pad for this project, The New Vic promises to create an unforgettable legacy not only for circus as an artform, but as a tribute to the father of modern circus and Newcastle local boy, Peter Astley.”

Theresa Heskins, New Vic Artistic Director, said:

“We’re so thrilled to have been successful in this Ambition for Excellence award. Our ground-breaking project will be part of the Circus 250 celebrations, marking the beginning of modern circus. Allowing us to shine a light on Newcastle-under-Lyme, the town where the father of modern circus Philip Astley was born, it is fantastic that the Arts Council support our vision and we will now be able to work with NoFit State Circus, who create spectacular work on a grand scale. We look forward to sharing a celebration of circus with audiences from near and far in 2018.”

Alison Clark, National Director, Combined Arts, Arts Council England, said:

“We’re delighted to support this exciting project that brings together the birthplace of the father of circus with one of the best circus companies internationally.  Circus is a truly innovative and accessible artform that is growing in the UK and internationally.  The work created as a result of this award will form one of the highlights of Circus 250 celebrations in 2018, and provide a long term legacy for the Midlands, which is the key aim underpinning the Ambition programme.”