Circus consolidates its status in Finland – small companies’ audience and performance numbers on the rise

Finnish circus companies and Cirko – The Centre for New Circus had a total of 1163 performances in 2018, which had a total number of 191 553 spectators. Statistics show that in Finland the total amount of performances and spectators rose higher than ever. Circus companies and Cirko increased their number of performances in Finland by 11 percent and audience attendance by 29 percent in comparison to the previous year.

It is notable that an ever-increasing part of the circus companies’ productions are made without public funding. Almost half of both the performances and the total number of spectators belong to companies which do not get state subsidies, whereas the figures for companies which do receive subsidies are in decline. A total of eleven companies and one circus centre receive state subsidies. In 2018 they staged a total of 627 performances, which gathered a total number of 101 328 spectators. The 25 groups and solo artists which function outside the state allowance system produced 551 performances in total, gathering 91 839 spectators.

Statistics show that in 2018 companies staged 39 premieres. Of these also roughly half were productions by companies that do not receive state subsidies. Even though the field of circus art is growing and diversifying, the state subsidies granted to circus companies remains at 305 000 euros, the level it was already at in 2014. The consequence of this is that an increasing number of circus performances are produced by the companies’ own funding and production-specific grants. The situation makes it difficult for companies to engage in long-term planning and also leaves the lifespan of productions short.

United Kingdom still the number one touring location

A total of 17 Finnish circus companies staged productions abroad during 2018 in a total of 30 countries. United Kingdom remained the most popular location for visiting performances with France coming in at second. The number of visits abroad was lower than in the five preceding years on average. The insufficient amount of grants aimed towards international projects is affecting the mobility of circus companies and this is now evident in the statistics as well. Still, circus remains clearly the most international form of performing arts, as in 2018 over a third of performances and nearly half of audience numbers were from outside of Finland.

As for the total figures which include both traditional touring circus and contemporary circus productions, their level is around the average for 2010s. The total number of performances in 2018 was 1529 and they amassed a total of 412 873 spectators. The statistics were compiled from figures provided by 39 circus companies, artists and organizations.