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Figueres presents plan to become Word Circus Capital by 2018, building on its annual festival

Being the European capital of Circus Arts 5 days a year seems not to be enough for the Catalan city of Figueres (near the Costa Brava and the French border). On Monday, in a press conference that took place a week after the 4th edition of the city's International Circus Festival, Mayor Marta Felip and Festival Director Genís Matabosch announced a plan to become the Word Circus Capital by 2018. Figueres is already working on the project, which will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the circus in Spain. A City of Circus is to be created, a very ambitious project that will host - among others draws - a museum, a high-performance centre for international artists and a permanent big top with a resident show every half-year.

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09 March 2015 09:58 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Being the European capital of Circus Arts 5 days a year seems not to be enough for the Catalan city of Figueres (near the Costa Brava and the French border). On Monday, in a press conference that took place a week after the 4th edition of the city's International Circus Festival, Mayor Marta Felip and Festival Director, Genís Matabosch announced a plan to become the Word Circus Capital by 2018. Figueres is already working on the project, which will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the circus in Spain. A City of Circus is to be created, a very ambitious project that will host - among others draws - a museum, a high-performance centre for international artists and a permanent big top with a resident show every half-year.


The 4th edition of the Figueres International Circus Festival closed its doors on Monday 2 March having set a new attendance record of more than 30,000 tickets sold and a show occupancy rate of 92 %. The festival's director Genís Matabosch described this success as "the best guarantee and platform" for starting to face new challenges, such as becoming the World Circus Capital. This is to be achieved by 2018 and maintained over the following years. As Matabosch pointed out, unlike the Swiss city of Geneva that held the title for only one year, Figueres intends "to be World Circus Capital forever" by trying to match this achievement with the opening of the City of Circus.

Despite previous announcements about the creation of a museum of Circus Arts in the city of Figueres – which hosts the collection of the Circus Arts Foundation which is managed by the Festival's organiser - the project of creating the City of Circus goes much further, as Mayor Marta Felip stressed.

According to Matabosch, it will be a large-scale cultural and leisure complex dedicated to all aspects of the circus world. Thus, in addition to the museum, which will feature the foundation's collections, others contributions from around the world and temporary exhibitions, the Circus City will also boast - among others features - a creation studio, a high-performance centre for international artists and a permanent big top with a biannual resident show.

Both the festival's director and Figuere's Mayor described the project as "ready" after three years of work. It is "ready to be put into practice in order to make it a reality as soon as possible", they stressed. However, they have not provided further details besides mentioning the main venues and activities of the project.

Mayor Marta Felip said that making Figueres Word Circus Capital by 2018 and creating a large-scale complex like the City of Circus are both projects that need the support and help of the City Council. Therefore, on Tuesday, she plans to meet with the Spanish Minister of Culture José Ignacio Wert, in order to discuss the issue and gauge the interest of the Spanish Government in the project.

According to Matabosch, the large scale of the project will require additional time in order to identify a suitable area in the city where the complex can be located.  He also added that the project will follow the model of many North American museums that, despite initial financial support from public institutions, are run by private foundations.

Genís Matabosch emphasised that the city of Figueres and circus arts represent "an indissoluble duo". He also highlighted that the four previous editions of the International Circus Festival have put the city on the world map of circus arts, showing that people are willing to enjoy an event of this kind and will also be willing to support initiatives such as the future creation of the Figueres-based City of Circus.

The Figueres International Circus Festival sold 30,000 tickets this year.

The Figueres International Circus Festival was conceived with the aim of bringing together in each edition the 22 best attractions ever seen in a European circus. On this occasion, more than 70 artists from 14 countries competed in front of an international jury formed by 15 important directors and experts from circuses around the world. Since its creation, this new meeting point has become the European gateway for those artists who want to introduce themselves to the market of the Old Continent. Most of the spectators are adults, a fact which proves that circus arts can be a form of entertainment not aimed solely at kids.

Both Matabosch and Felip agreed that the city of Figueres "will continue to host the Festival for many years" given its success in terms of attendance rate, "undisputed" economic return,  and international exposure for the area. Matabosch also stressed that Figueres' event had become, in just four years, the second most important circus festival in Europe, only behind Monte Carlo, and an undisputed worldwide point of reference in this sector. It is also a festival, he said, that "still has room for growth in terms of attendance rate, with a strong commitment to close agreements with international tour operators, especially from France, and improving the quality of performances".

With regard to its 4th edition, the €676,671 festival budget was covered primarily by the sales of tickets and the catering services, which totalled €440,000. The rest of the budget was funded through public subsidies (€160,000) and private companies (just over €75,000).

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  • A picture of the 2015 Figueres International Circus Festival (by A. Recolons)

  • A picture of the 2015 Figueres International Circus Festival (by A. Recolons)

  • A picture of the 2015 Figueres International Circus Festival (by A. Recolons)
  • A picture of the 2015 Figueres International Circus Festival (by A. Recolons)
Catalan city of Figueres aims to become the World's Circus Capital by 2018