Written evidence submitted by Crying Out Loud




Submission of evidence to the DCMS Committee on the enquiry “Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors


About Crying Out Loud


Crying Out Loud (COL) was founded in 2002 by producer-curator Rachel Clare, supported by a Promoters Award from Arts Council England. The company has evolved over the years, but maintains an aesthetic of memorable, extraordinary and visual work that crosses art-form boundaries.


Since its inception, COL has toured productions, created development opportunities for artists, curated seasons and festivals, founded networks and developed one-off special events.


COL is known for introducing seminal international artists to the UK, including French artists James Thierrée, CirkVOST, and Company Non Nova; Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger from Morocco; Italy’s Company TPO; Race Horse Company from Finland; Laika and Inne Goris from Belgium. Homegrown success includes the support and development of British based circus companies Niki & JD and Pirates of the Carabina with their hit show, Flown.


Other activities include curating family events for Manchester International Festival; the first circus season at London’s Roundhouse in 2007; Freetime at Somerset House from 2000 to 2008; Piccadilly Circus Circus  a huge site specific event which formed part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012; and Circus Sampler,  two free weekends of circus, music and hip hop at Somerset House as part of the 250th anniversary of the creation of the first ‘modern’ circus in 2018.


COL is a founder-member of active networks including: the UK wide strategic touring partnership: Circus Evolution, the international street and circus network Circostrada, and the pan-European CircusNext (previously Jeunes Talents Cirque Europe).


The development of the contemporary circus scene has always been integral to COL’s work. Recently, COL teamed up with NoFit State Circus to deliver Spotlight UK Circus – a showcase that aimed to raise the profile of UK contemporary circus on the international scene.


The company is supported as a National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England (of just over £200k), and is based at Somerset House with a small core team of three and an expanding pool of regularly collaborating freelancers. Our annual turnover varies from year to year usually between £500k - £1 million. 


The very immediate impact on COL’s activities from COVID-19



The subsequent challenges we face due to the impact of Covid-19 on our work


The work of producing companies is based on collaborative work with both artists and presenting organisations. We currently face many of the same challenges facing all arts/culture organisations in responding to Covid-19. These include:


The following are more detailed challenges facing us and other organisations working with artists and activities that includes circus, they are challenges described from the circus sector’s perspective, a sector without an overarching development body championing its needs.


Artists’ training requirements


Workforce and work creation


Sector support, touring, festivals, venues and audiences


How we and the circus sector may survive and thrive post COVID-19


COL and many in the circus sector are known for being resilient and would like to make the most of current circumstances. We see the following as opportunities, even in difficult times for the live performance sector:


What we and the wider circus sector need from policy makers and public funders:


  1. Ongoing consultation and engagement with a representative range of companies and organisations to ensure that the needs of the entire sector continue to be heard within ongoing policy development, emergency support planning and the development of future focused solutions.
  2. An assurance that public support mechanisms are inclusive of the circus sector and are adaptable to our requirements – specifically a recognition that the circus sector (commercial as well as subsidised) will need support for as long as social distancing is necessary. Support to include:
    1. Ongoing support for freelance artists – particularly those not eligible for support through SEISS;
    2. VAT on ticket sales to be reduced to 5%;
    3. A new ‘guarantee against loss scheme’ to enable presenters and producers to manage the risk of COVID 19 related loss of earnings caused by business interruption;
    4. A guarantee that international artists who are unable to return home can access public funds on the same basis as UK residents for the duration of a future crisis;
    5. A new designated fund for local authorities to ensure that the costs of Big Top and open-air circus performances and festivals are not passed on to producing and presenting companies and organisers;
    6. The creation of a new investment fund to support both content creation and adaptation and the development of new business models to ensure future sectoral sustainability;
    7. Continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the sector (including outdoor and indoor venues, training facilities and schools) are allowed and practically able to reopen;
  3. An assurance that any resources made available through the Arts Councils are shared strategically across the arts ecology and that less visible art forms, such as circus, do not lose out accidentally.
  4. A continued dialogue with the sector to ensure that there are avenues to support the entire Circus sector – recognising that there is no current overarching circus development body.


19 June 2020