NuoraNORD Incubator was a success despite the pandemic

NuoraNORD Incubator project became an exploration of online collaboration because of the pandemic in 2020. Now as the project has ended it’s time to take a look on how the exploration – and the whole project – turned out. The feedback from the participants has been highly positive.

NuoraNORD Incubator was a one-year project for upcoming circus initiatives to be co-developed in a peer-support process. It was executed over a period of six months from May to October. During that time the group of participants met in three facilitated online workshops to work on their projects. On top of that they were offered a series of online meetings with the project partners on a variety of topics related to project management and producing. On a scale 1-7 the participants rated the usefulness of the different activities a 6 on average.

The project was participant driven and its purpose was to help the participants to help themselves in moving forward towards their goals. The activities for the workshops were cultivated from the participants’ needs. In the feedback many said that they got more focused with their concept and working methods. The exercises in the workshops and input from others helped each participant to see what their initiative was really about. What they should change in their ways and what to concentrate on. Some teams needed to look for the big picture and others needed to break the big unapproachable idea into smaller segments.

“Incubator gave us an opportunity to clarify what we want to achieve, what excites and drives us, and also gave us free space for brainstorming and planning new ideas.”

All of this was achieved online for which thanks goes to the facilitator Tuomas Tirkkonen of Tupu Creative. He rhythmed the workshops with creative activities which made them easy to take part in. He created visual canvases and utilised narrative metaphors which made complex project structures more approachable and clear. 

The participants’ said that the tools used in the online meetings worked well. These included Zoom with breakout rooms and Google Jamboard for interaction. The participants pointed out that the workshops were thoroughly planned and scheduled, which made it easy to take part in them and trust the process. Strict schedule for each given task made the work efficient and got everyone to concentrate intently. 

However, some things aren’t easy to achieve online. The participants missed meeting others live and suspected that missing out on that made it harder to reach out to each other outside the workshops. Feeling of community and connection within the group possibly didn’t match the one we might have been able to reach with a live incubator residency. Also, as the workshops were spread out for quite a long time span, getting back on working together again took extra effort each time. These things would require attention in similar projects in the future.

All in all the Incubator project was a hit among the participants and everyone would recommend participation to a similar project to other circus professionals. Also, the financial support they got was very welcome. It enabled them to kickstart their project before they got other funding, for example to buy equipment, pay for their own team or for artistic mentoring. 

From the coordinating organisation’s point of view the project was a success, too. The goal was to support upcoming circus projects’ viability for them to go on independently after the Incubator project is over, and despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, it appears to have been reached. The project coordinator Kaisa Tiainen sums up the journey: “It felt important to carry out the project and not let the pandemic defeat us. We’re delighted that we were able to offer some lift to this spectrum of circus projects and help build sustainability for circus in the Baltic-Nordic region together with the other project partners.”

NuoraNORD Incubator is a one-year project coordinated by CircusInfo Finland in aim to empower emerging circus initiatives with both material and immaterial resources. The project partners are Arts Printing House / Menu spaustuve (Lithuania), Eesti Tsirkusekeskus (Estonia), Cirkus Cirkör (Sweden), Dynamo Workspace for Circus (Denmark) and Riga Cirks (Latvia). Each partner selected an initiative from their region to take part in the project: Lumo Company (FIN), Šiuolaikinio cirko asociacija (Contemporary Circus Association, LIT), EPICIRQ showcase (EST), Below Zero (SWE), CameliOrquestra (DNK) and a circus production Up to this point (LAT).

NuoraNORD Incubator is funded by Nordic Culture Point.