Author Archives: Max Clabaut

Message from SANCA’s Development Director – Jeff Deveaux

It’s with a sense of bittersweetness that I announce my resignation as Development Director at SANCA. My seventeen-year tenure at SANCA as a coach, grant writer, and development director has been filled with amazing experiences, people, and opportunities that I will never forget. After all these years I’ve decided to pursue a new opportunity and I’ve accepted a position as the Grants Manager at the Henry Art Gallery.
I feel fortunate to have been a part of SANCA and to have had the opportunity to meet so many of you and share the experience of circus with you and your families. As inspirational, exciting, and fun as circus is as an art form and activity, it’s really the community of people that make it so special, and I want to thank you all for everything that you bring to the SANCA community; it’s been an honor knowing all of you.
Best Regards,
Jeff Deveaux

SANCA during COVID-19 – Summer 2021

Hello SANCA Family,

As you may have heard, Governor Inslee issued an order that allows businesses to welcome vaccinated guests unmasked indoors. For now, SANCA will continue to require masks for everyone who enters our facilities – no exceptions.

The Governor’s order excludes schools, as students under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated. As SANCA has a lot of students under the age of 12, we are following that part of the order. Masks will be required at SANCA until further notice.

John ‘JT’ Tannous
Executive Director

GiveBIG 2021 – Update

We asked you to GiveBIG . . . 

. . . AND YOU DID!

Washington’s GiveBIG event has been the keystone of SANCA’s annual spring fund drive since it launched eleven years ago, and while it’s always been an essential source of support for SANCA, this year your support at GiveBIG was crucial in helping SANCA to sustain our circus programs and start the process of recovery as we continue to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our circus community came together to raise $26,900 online. With offline giving and a matching gift of $5,000 established by members of SANCA’s Board of Directors, we raised a total of $32,253 — exceeding our $25,000 fundraising goal! Thank you!

You’ve also been loud and clear about your passion for circus arts and your support for SANCA as a vital non-profit arts organization in Seattle! The GiveBIG leaderboards for online giving report that SANCA places:

  • 11th in fundraising among 389 participating arts organizations.
  • 77th among all 1,643 participating organizations.

Your support this year at GiveBIG ensures that our students will continue to have opportunities to participate in healthy and creative circus classes. Your generous gifts of support will:

  • Sustain circus arts programs while SANCA is still under pandemic restrictions.
  • Provide support to youth who are low income through SANCA’s BIPOC and Youth Scholarship Funds.
  • Help SANCA reimagine and rebuild our Social Circus programs and community partnerships to bring an even stronger lens of equity and diversity to our work.

You have made it possible for SANCA to survive these uncertain times. Thank you so much!


Jeff Deveaux

Development Director

SANCA Circus Performance Camps at Hale’s Palladium


SANCA has partnered with Hale’s to create week-long performance based camps that will be held at Hale’s Palladium. These camps are specially designed for students who have already begun their circus training and want to spend a week planning, rehearsing, and delivering a performance.

Circus Performance Camps will take place Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm and will culminate in a final performance on Friday afternoon at 1pm on the Palladium stage!

Campers will work with skilled circus coaches to build small group and solo acts in a variety of different circus arts including: Aerial Arts, Tumbling, Solo Acrobatics, Juggling, Object Manipulation, Rolling Globe, Unicycle with a focus on developing stage presence and artistic expression.

These camps are designed for campers who have previous experience in circus arts, dance, gymnastics, or other physical arts. In order to enroll, families must fill out a Performance Camp Application and be granted approval. Circus Performance Camps will be available for campers between the ages of 9 and 17.

Hale’s Palladium
4301 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Performance Camp Application

Join the SANCA Gala Committee

SANCA is looking for a team of diverse volunteers to help us plan and execute our fundraising gala. Planning meetings would occur over Zoom once or twice a month leading up to the event, with opportunities to assist in-person during the gala.

Volunteers are expected to assist with the following tasks:

  • gala decor, theme, and style
  • the silent auction
  • provide input on event plans
  • help with post-event efforts (thank you’s, etc.)
If interested in joining the Gala Committee, please contact
Tom Hanna

Spring Break Camp has wrapped!

Spring Break Camp has wrapped!
Now it’s full speed into Summer Camps!
Last week, SANCA had the joy of having 12 campers join us for a week of fun games, thrilling circus skills, and joyous social interaction at Spring Break Camp. Kids don’t have to run away to join the circus! SANCA offers an extensive day camp program for children age 6 and up. Our day camps allow students to develop physical skills, increase confidence, build self-esteem and get physically fit.

If you’re looking for a a great way to keep your kids happy and active during the summer, enroll them in one of our Summer Camps! Campers will be presented with a wonderful introduction to many different circus disciplines, giving them the opportunity to explore the joys of everything that SANCA has to offer! From juggling to tumbling, aerial fabric to tightwire, there is so much to enjoy about camp.

CIRQ UP: A GiveBIG Virtual Show

Cirq Up: A GiveBIG Virtual Show is Coming May 4th and 5th!

Early giving for GiveBIG has started! That’s means we’re almost to the main event. We’re beyond excited to share our virtual May 4th and May 5th shows with you. Mark your calendars and line up your viewing party because you’re not going to want to miss out!

We’ve been keeping our Cirq Up cast list under lock and key…but now we’re ready to share! Each night features a different line-up, so you’ll want to tune in BOTH evenings to make sure you don’t miss any of the spectacular spectacles!

Featuring Performances By

Stratus Circus
Nimbus Circus
Celestial Circus
Cirrus Circus
Saffi Watson
Acrobatic Conundrum
Vertical Axis (Nick Perry & Amanda Thornton)
The Double R Double L Circus Ranch
Molly Barger
Julaine Hall
Gabby Leiva
Jasmine Manuel
Mari Sharpe
Leila Smith
Billy Boy

SANCA’s Cirq Up is a part of our Spring fundraiser and held in conjunction with GiveBIG. Funds raised this year will enable SANCA to continue the process of recovery as we address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

Want to help SANCA make the most of GiveBIG? DONATE! Ready to take it a step further? You can be a SANCA Champion by setting up your very own FUNdraising page and sharing it with your social circle to help us reach our fundraising goals! Click on the button below to find out how!

Find out more

Two young SANCA students are in need

We have recently discovered that two young SANCA students are in need.

Two teenage siblings who have been students with SANCA for about 4 years are in need of a home, due to family circumstances. While they are currently living with a friend, this arrangement will end in 8-10 days. Despite this situation, the teens are currently attending high school (virtually); they are committed to continuing study at SANCA (they play a leadership role within their group); and they are sweet, positive and enthusiastic. They are without family financial support, and have no relatives in the area.

We have contacted local nonprofit agencies, youth services organizations, and shelters, however they are unable to assist in the matter. The good news is that a loving SANCA family member has agreed to host these two students in their home indefinitely. Our hearts are encouraged by this, but there is still more to do.

While this unusual situation is not a direct part of SANCA’s “regular” mission, we feel that assisting these students is consistent with our values and important to our community. Therefore, we are promoting an opportunity to contribute to their cost of living, including costs associated with food, utilities, clothing, and other necessities. 100% of all donated funds will go directly to providing these two students with a safe and loving home. Donations are direct and not funneled through a non-profit, and therefore, are not tax deductible.

Donate here to support ongoing monthly living expenses.
If people would like to contribute directly to set-up costs for the students, those funds can be sent to the Paypal account of the host family ( or dropped at SANCA in the form of gift cards. These funds will support the host family directly so they can care for these students.
Helpful donations would be:
  • Visa/Mastercard/Amex gift cards (this is basically like handing us a credit card with limited funds)
  • Grocery gift cards (Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Trader Joe’s are all located close by)
  • Target, Amazon, and/or Walgreens gift cards (stores that carry general merchandise that may be needed).
  • Mid to large sized dressers (we need two – one for each teen’s bedroom).
  • Family room furniture (couches, futons, armchairs, television console table, storage stuff, small table for games, etc) – we’re building out our downstairs area into a lounge area for the kids, so they have a place to retreat to when they don’t want to hang out in the living room with us or be stuck in their bedrooms. We’re pretty open to anything that might work.
  • Board games, books, small electronics, and other items that they may enjoy for entertainment purposes.
From the host family: We’re super excited to have the kids joining us and beyond thankful for all of the support and well wishes we’ve received from the SANCA community.

If any of you wish to contribute but have questions, please feel free to email Executive Director John Tannous. Thank you for considering supporting these two phenomenal young people.

2021 SANCA Tent Hall Transcript

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Watch the Event:

John Tannous, Executive Director
Tania Nambo-Escobar, IDEA Committee Chair, Coach
Adam Noble, Board Chair for Development Committee
Jeff Deveaux, Development Director
Octavia Graham, Director of Staff Success

John Tannous (JT): Welcome to our second-ever Tent Hall!
(Shares two videos)

Updates from the IDEA Committee

  • IDEA = Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Anti-Racism
  • Tania Nambo-Escobar Chairs the 15-member IDEA Committee

Tania: Since the last tent hall in August, the IDEA Committee has:

  • Developed and adopted a land acknowledgement for SANCA.
  • Created a goal-oriented Anti-Racist Strategic Plan for SANCA, including:
    • Aiding the Board in recruiting diverse Board members.
    • Adding a staff liaison position to the Board (Octavia Graham).
  • Subcommittee developed a selection process that included staff input.
  • Provided educational opportunities for staff and students, including:
    • Discussion groups led by Lilly Baumgart. The group reads and discusses literature during the meeting.
    • Power of Three social media posts to share resources (books, videos, & podcasts) that focus on anti-racism.
    • Black-Out Tuesday social media posts that focus on Black circus artists and other Black artists.
  • Thank you to Manjit Golden for her leadership as co-chair in 2020.

This year the IDEA Committee is:

  • Developing plans to have more forums.
  • Continuing our work to be transparent through the website and increased communication with our community. 

Development Team Update

Adam Noble, Board Committee Chair, Jeff Deveaux, Development Director

JT: The past year probably should have forced SANCA out of business, but we had unprecedented support from our community ― a record-breaking year in fundraising. I’d like to especially thank:

  • Our landlords Orcas Business Park helped SANCA with rent reductions and even rent-forgiveness during the spring closure.
  • King County and 4Culture provided multiple relief grants.

Adam: I’d also like to thank our Youth Troupe families past and present who have continued to support SANCA with volunteering and financial support.

Jeff: I’d like to thank several families who’ve been with SANCA since the beginning and who really helped us in 2020: the McClintock Family, the Forbes Family, The Taft Family, and the Cunningham & O’Leary Family.

JT: In 2020, we more than doubled contributed revenue! Why? What did we hear from the community?

Adam: I heard from several donors that they loved SANCA and felt it had contributed much to themselves or their families — in developing strength and confidence as well as being a fun place to learn cool things. They recognized that SANCA is valuable to our local community and culture and wanted to help make sure we are still there when this COVID crisis passes.  We are fortunate that we have a generous and wide SANCA family, and incredibly thankful for the continued support. In fact, we are very pleased that while the pandemic has changed SANCA in many ways, we are finally at a point where we are able to offer scholarships again and are back to where we are turning no one away who is in need.  That is exciting both because it is one of the tenets of SANCA’s mission, and also because based on the feedback we know how important SANCA can be to help manage the stress and improve the mental health of our extended circus family that is sorely needed right now.

Jeff: Many of our supporters have shared two things that really stand out to me. One is that they feel SANCA went above and beyond in our safety measures to address the pandemic and make sure that our students would be confident in their ability to safely continue circus classes under Public Health guidelines. The other is how many of our families dearly love their circus classes. They deeply appreciated SANCA’s quick pivot to online circus classes in the spring. They’ve even called it “sanity-saving” because it gave their kids fun activities to do, and for themselves, opportunities to get a “Circus-Strong” workout, release stress, and have moments of social connection with their other circus friends and classmates. Ultimately, that’s a testimony to SANCA’s wonderful coaches who take great care of their students, and that’s what I think inspired such strong support for SANCA in a very difficult year.

JT: Adam, I’d like to thank you for your leadership of the Development Committee and all the members of Development Committee who helped us in 2020. I’d also like to thank Jeff for his work as Development Director.

SANCA’s Financial Status & 2020 Annual Report

JT: Our 2020 Annual Report was published on our website today! It covers all areas of the school, and includes messages from our Board President and our Staff Directors, and our donor list.

JT: Back in November when Washington State shut down again, we wondered if we could survive with limited enrollment capacity. Then the fall appeal brought in more donations than we expected. In early January, 2021, we were approved for a second PPP loan/grant, a $209,500 forgivable federal loan, which really helped us start the year in a much better financial position. Now we are able to weather the pandemic through the end of 2021 even if we are under occupancy restrictions for the rest of the year.

Could we be at risk again? Yes if: 

  • If we have to close for a long period of time.
  • If we are not able to raise enough funds this year. Continued support is essential.

We are not budgeting for another year of record-breaking donations and grants. Our planning is in line with 2019-level contributed income. Right now SANCA has an operating reserve of almost $400,000 — the largest operating reserve we have ever had. We would like to hold on to that reserve through the end of 2021, because that is close to industry standard for a non-profit organization of our size. Our eventual goal for the reserve fund is $1M which is six months of operating expenses.

I also want to give an update about our gala fundraiser, Up with a Twist:

  • We are hoping to hold the gala later this year this year in late summer or early fall.
  • It may be virtual or in-person (outside), or we may postpone it entirely until 2022.
  • We’ll make a decision in the next two months, and we’ll also be reaching out to everyone who loves being a part of Twist, because your annual contributions are key to making it through the year.

HR & Staffing Update

Dr. Octavia Graham, Director of Staff Success

JT: Many of you have known Octavia from her role in the Front Office. We’ve recently promoted Octavia to be our Director of Staff Success, where she is part of our directors’ team and responsible for HR and staffing issues. Octavia, can you tell us about the impact of the pandemic on our staff?

Octavia: Early in pandemic, SANCA needed to streamline operations. We furloughed about 50% of our staff.

  • Many staff members left to secure more stable employment, including coaches, front office staff, and Integrated Circus Director Amber Parker.
  • Going into 2021, we are working on attracting and retaining a diverse and energetic staff. We just hired:
    • Two new front office administrative assistants.
    • A new camp coach.
  • We are also currently hiring for a flying trapeze coach to join our team in the tent.

We are working to create the kind of employment environment that allows staff to thrive and enjoy the work they are doing. The connection between coach and student is where the real magic at SANCA happens. We are:

  • Increasing the amount of staff training we provide.
  • Reworking the employee manual and compensation policies to give coaches a better living wage.
  • Actively reducing systemic biases in hiring practices; for example, we’re looking at where we are posting jobs, what can we change in terms of hiring requirements, and how we reach more diverse populations with employment opportunities.

Community Q&A

 Annie Drummond

  • Votes for Up with a Twist outside.
  • Glad to hear about the focus on coaches, including efforts to provide a living wage.

Q: Is there any thought about having a program that is an internship for students who would like to be teachers/coaches?

A: We have had several coaches who grew up with SANCA as students, like Julaine Hall, who is on the call tonight. We’re also exploring the merits of hiring interns to support other functions like Marketing. A coaching internship is a great idea that I’ll take to Tom and Max to discuss.

Michelle Harvey, Orcas Business Park
Q: How is the new space configuration working out for SANCA and students?

A: In some ways, the more room we have to spread out and do circus, the more we can do. The reduced footprint is a little more cramped; but, before the move, we were not really maximizing our space and using it efficiently. Even before the pandemic, we had thoughts about better space use. We are not losing any circus disciplines with less space. Once we are back to full operations, we will still be able to comfortably fit in this space. Some students really like the smaller space because they get to see disciplines being practiced that they haven’t been able to watch before because they were in the other room; for example, tumbling classes can now observe the trampoline classes, and that might even inspire them to sign up for another class.

David Drummond
Q: What about changing areas and parental viewing?

A: Parent viewing will move downstairs and possibly to the blue or green room in South Annex. We’ll be able to create a smaller viewing space, but this won’t happen until we’re after pandemic occupancy restrictions.

Dylan Forbes
Q: Where is the high wire? That’s a valuable apparatus for students who have that focus.

A: It is temporarily put away. Some of our specialty classes, like tightwire, are not seeing many enrollments during the pandemic, but we can bring it out and set it up when we need it. We do have the space.