Happy New Year!
It’s been just about four months since I stepped in as the Interim Executive Director at SANCA and I wanted to give you an update on the organization and a brief wrap-up of 2015.
First, I want to say that it has been a delight working with the staff, coaches, students, and parents here at SANCA. The sense of community and family runs to the heart of the organization. Everyone that works (and plays) here embodies a deep commitment to the students and to the personal growth, mental and physical health, confidence, and simple joy that the circus arts brings to our lives.
Since my arrival, I have been working to formalize the structure of our programs and organization to streamline our processes and focus our energies efficiently. Our organizational structure now reflects SANCA’s three distinct program areas: Recreational, Performance, and Social Circus. I want to share with you our progress in each area and where we plan to go in 2016.
SANCA’s Recreational Programs — including 12-week session classes, single serving classes, and flying trapeze classes for youth and adults — continues to thrive with energy and excitement. These programs operate at near-full capacity with a steady year-over-year enrollment of more than 1,000 students per week. In 2015 SANCA granted over $136,000 in scholarships to youth in circus classes.
In 2016, Crystal Campbell and our Recreational Program staff will continue the spirit of fun, safety, and accessibility originally established by co-Founders Chuck Johnson and Jo Montgomery. They will also optimize our class offerings, schedule, and staffing to better serve the student body and grow our capacity to meet the needs of the community.
We had a booming performance year at SANCA including our annual Spring Showcase—SASS; the annual Staff Show, “The Circus Animal: A Documentary”; and Cirrus Circus’s fall show “HOTEL.” All of our youth troupes — Cirrus, the Magnificent 7, and the Amazing Circus 1-ders – performed at various community events and festivals throughout the region, including the Georgetown Carnival, Whirligig, and Seattle Center’s Winterfest.
Our Artist-In-Residence program fostered two original productions from IMPulse Circus Collective (“Figments” at the Moisture Festival and a Pacific Northwest mini-tour of “We All Fall Down”) and continuing works from The Acrobatic Conundrum — including a trip to Egypt for the BackStreet Festival and a talk/performance at TEDxRainier. I hope you were able to catch at least one of these fabulous performances.
Kicking off 2016, we welcome our new Youth Performance Companies Director, Audrey Spinazola. Audrey has joined us from Circus Center and Prescott Circus in San Francisco and we look forward to her creativity and leadership working with our youth performers in the coming year.
Our current crop of seven Professional Preparatory Program (P3) students are all thriving and eager to move forward with the creation of new acts. Look for their end-of-year performance in early June. We will also expand and formalize our Artist-In-Residence Program to accept applications from aspiring circus artists from around the world.
Our Social Circus programs represent the heart of SANCA and make circus available to those who have the least access and opportunity to participate in healthy, creative, physical arts. In 2015 SANCA granted more than $18,000 in financial aid to our Every Body’s Circus youth and our Circus Outreach partners.
At the end of 2015, we began expanding our Social Circus initiatives, building on the great work that our co-Founder Jo Montgomery began, and continues to provide, in Every Body’s Circus. 2016 promises to be the year of Social Circus at SANCA as the program grows to include:
- Social Circus Outreach to build additional partnerships in the greater Seattle area that bring circus to underserved and at-risk communities that want to use circus for social, emotional, and physical growth.
- Every Body’s Circus to bring circus to youth who have learning differences, trauma-related or mood disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, hemiparesis, spina bifida, and vision or hearing impairments.
Our new Social Circus Director, Ian Jagel, is building new connections in our community to reach more underserved and marginalized youth with outreach circus programming — look for an update on our pilot program with the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) in the first quarter of 2016.
I am also delighted to introduce Alexandra Daves, MSW, LSWAIC, who will lead Therapeutic Circus Arts program moving forward. Alex brings her knowledge and expertise in mental health services as a Licensed Social Worker to compliment the physical health services offered by our co-founder Jo Montgomery, ARNP. Alex looks forward to incorporating mental health services into Every Body’s Circus as we expand our therapeutic circus offerings.
In 2015, we raised over $150,000 dollars in individual contributions from our generous community of supporters. Your contributions provided financial scholarships for youth and made it possible for SANCA to offer our Social Circus and Youth Performance programs to the community while keeping circus accessible to all who want to participate.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
I’d also like to thank our institutional supporters who provided general operating and program support in 2015: 4Culture, Boeing, ChenSteinO’MallySven Foundation, Cirque du Soleil, Nesholm Family Foundation, Newground Social Investment, Orcas Business Park (SANCA’s Landlords), The Ruddell Kroll Charitable Fund, Seattle Children’s, The Seattle Foundation, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Teamtrio, Teatro ZinZanni, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, and the Windermere Foundation.
Looking Forward to 2016
In 2016, we will expand our Social Circus programs, grow the capacity of the Recreational Program, and raise the level of excellence in our Performance Programs. Simultaneously, we will focus on optimizing staffing for programs, tightening up administrative processes and costs, and updating our technical infrastructure to improve efficiency. Your gifts of support in 2016 will guarantee the success of the expansion of our Social Circus programs and community partnerships, ensure continued support of all youth who want to take circus classes via our scholarship program, and will keep the heart of SANCA beating strong.
Whether your support comes as a gift of financial support, attendance at one of our shows, volunteering at an event, participating in SANCAthon, or taking one of our amazing circus classes, we appreciate every one of you and what you bring to SANCA. You are all part of the SANCA family, and you are why we are here.
I hope you all have a wonderful 2016!
Happy New Year,
Interim Executive Director
SANCA — School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts