BNCN members collaborating on NuoraNORD Incubator project

NuoraNORD Incubator is a one-year project for 2020 in aim to boost up-and-coming circus initiatives in the Baltic-Nordic region. With the support of Nordic Culture Point six BNCN members are collaborating to empower circus projects and their makers in a co-development and peer-support process with both material and immaterial resources.

The Incubator project is a collaboration between six BNCN members CircusInfo Finland (coordinator), Dynamo Workspace, Cirkus Cirkör, Arts Printing House, Eesti Tsirkusekeskus and Riga Cirks. Each partner has selected an initiative from their region to take part in the project. The chosen participants are Lumo Company (FIN), CameliOrquestra (DNK), Below Zero (SWE), Šiuolaikinio cirko asociacija (Contemporary Circus Association, LIT), EPICIRQ showcase (EST) and an unnamed circus production from Latvia.

Due to the pandemic, NuoraNORD Incubator has become an exploration on the possibilities of remote collaboration as the project is carried out entirely online, opposed to the original plan which included a weeklong residence in Tallinn.

Here’s a Q&A about the project, with the coordinator Kaisa Tiainen, we had in the beginning of October.

Where did the idea for NuoraNORD Incubator come from?

The Incubator project continues the work of previous NuoraNORD project CircusInfo Finland coordinated in 2018–19 to develop sustainability and diversity for circus in the Baltic-Nordic region. After the previous project a need emerged to continue on supporting the young generation of circus makers in the region and specifically not to educate more professionals but to identify and nurture those who already exist.

How does the project operate?

The idea is that the participants work independently on their own initiative and get support from the Incubator along the way. We’ve had two two-day online workshops facilitated by Tuomas Tirkkonen of Tupu Creative and we’ve got one more to go. We expected that the workshops would be more about sharing what has happened in-between meetings, however, they have turned out to be more about taking time to focus and efficiently work on the initiative during this strange year. All the initiatives are long term, so we won’t see “end result” within the Incubator project period.

The project partners have offered their expertise on different subject matters – such as funding, visibility, project management, marketing, production and touring – to the participants in online discussions. In addition to all the immaterial support each initiative will also get material support in form of a small fee, which they can utilise to benefit their project.

How do you feel about the changes you had to make because of the pandemic?

I’m so glad that we were able to proceed with the project even though we had to cancel our plans for a residence. One positive thing has been that without travel costs limiting the number of people taking part, we were able to welcome all members of the participating teams in all of the activities.  

In the feedback we’ve gotten so far, the participants have been surprised how well the online tools have worked. How connected they have felt in a virtual room with the group. The connection and pull in our workshops have been very strong, despite the distance and technology between us. The Incubator has felt even more significant this peculiar year, because extra support has been needed and fortunately we have been able to offer it.  

What are your thoughts on the remaining project period?

It exhilarates me that even though the initiatives are different from each other they can support each other with knowledge, advice, opinions and feedback. I wish that the participants would keep the connection alive even after the year is over since they have so much to give and get from each other. It’s sad to think that our next workshop is already our last one and soon we have to say goodbye!