Circus Skills Workshops have become an enormously popular form of entertainment activity at events of all kinds. We have been running circus workshop as part of our range of children’s entertainment options for many years. A well run circus workshop can be an excellent attraction and well worth considering when deciding what entertainment to book.
The event organiser will need to consider the following :
- Indoors or Outside
- Opening Times
- Age Groups
- Crowd control
- Drop in / Free Play or Set Times
The circus workshop should be sited where it can be seen or easily found but not adjacent to main arenas, stages or entrance / exit points where people watching or waiting to join in could cause an obstruction. Also avoid siting near hazards such as roads, overhead electricity lines, ditches, barbed wire fences, ponds or rivers etc. People involved in circus workshop activities often become engrossed in what they are doing and forget where they are. If you were working near to a road, for example, it would be easy to imagine a child chasing a diabolo and running out infront of a car! A flat level area is required and the ground should be firm and dry. Grass surfaces are preferred to Tarmac or concrete as they are less likely to cause injury if someone falls over.
Indoors or Outside?
Circus workshop can be either indoors or outside. The advantage of indoors is that there will be no interference from the weather. Indoors is a much more controlled environment, more comfortable and with less distractions. Its also easier to maintain control indoors. At larger events the circus workshop could take place inside a marquee. A modern clear span type is better than the more traditional marquee with poles and low eaves. At many events the circus workshop will have to be outside. The benefit of outside is that everyone can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Windy conditions can result in frustration however as many activities will be hindered or become impractical. Wet surfaces or wet slippery grass are also potentially unsafe. So outdoors is good if the weather is kind. Having a wet weather plan is recommended. See previous article regarding wet weather plans
Although some organisers ask for the circus workshop to be open for the full duration of the event it is better to run sessions at specified times.
A session can be anything from 30 – 60 minutes duration depending upon overall event times, how circus workshop fits into the programme, how the sessions are to be organised, number of participants etc.
One of the problems of having a completely open, drop in session is that you inevitably have families with small childen participating at the same time as teenagers and adults. It is very easy for a grown up to knock over an infant or even to accidentally kick or stand on one. In the interests of safety little ones should either have their own area or designated times. Another consideration is aptitude and ability. Younger children require much more supervision and assistance than older children or teenagers and it is therefore better to give them their own time slot if possible.
The circus workshop performance area needs to be enclosed. The event organiser should mark out the area to be used and then fence it in with stakes and ropes, plastic fencing or barriers. There should be one entrance / exit for the public and this should be controlled by a volunteer or member of staff when the workshop is in progress.
The area should be checked to ensure that there are no sharp objects, broken glass or hazards of any kind.
Only safe activities should be offered to the general public. Unicycling, fire juggling, knife juggling or walking on high stilts should not be used as the risk of personal injury is too great. Only activities with very low or no risk should be included. Juggling, Plate spinning, Diabolo and hold on stilts are all suitable safe activities.
There should be at least two adults in charge of the circus workshop so that one can go for help in the event of an emergency.
One person can easily run a group for a set session but open sessions really need two people as there will be a coninuous stream of people all trying different activities.
There should also be a member of staff controlling the entrance and exit.
Drop in / Free Play or Set Times
Running sessions at set times is good for the following reasons :
- Enables staff to sort out equipment, tidy up and reorganise
- Allow staff to have proper breaks and refreshments
- To maintain control
- Allows the possibility to focus on different skills in each session
- The programme is more varied and interesting
- Can help with segregating age groups ie have a special session for 5 -7 years or special session for teenagers etc
” Drop in ” or continuous open sessions are less desirable especially if the event is very busy because they can become a disorganised free for all with equipment picked up and dropped everywhere. Children dash in, play with something for a minute or two and then dash off again without really achieving anything. We do not recommend this approach.
One other consideration is parking. The organiser should allocate a parking space immediately adjacent to or at the rear of the workshop area for the circus workshop vehicle. The latter is important as it will enable equipment to be securely stored when not in use.
I hope you have found this article useful. Please feel free to comment.