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Circus City immersed me in a world where ideas … took flight and went in directions I could have never guessed. I’ve realised …. how important it is to protect ideas because you never know how amazing these might become (Volunteer Feedback 2023)

Circus City and Handstand Arts

Circus City is produced by Handstand Arts, a leading national performing arts organisation for the development of contemporary circus. 

Based in Bristol and originating from a biannual festival that launched in 2015 we established as a charity in 2019 that is recognised locally, regionally, and internationally in our field.

Our Vision

We are dedicated to sharing the power of collective live experiences for audiences and peers, recognising the unique experience that happens when we share moments of awe, joy, and challenge together.

We achieve our aim of promoting live performing arts by:

  • Championing diversity in performances, workforce, and audiences, ensuring greater access to the live arts experience and recognising the importance of different perspectives.
  • Encouraging experimentation and innovation through our curated and commissioned artistic practice, supporting artists to evolve and take risks with their work.
  • Building a stronger, more collaborative sector by working with a wide range of partners to share knowledge, skills and opportunities.

Our year-round programme includes place-based outdoor performances, residencies, workshops and artists development opportunities. We punctuate this biannually with Circus City, the largest UK (and only English) festival dedicated to contemporary circus.

The Next 5 years

Our goal for 2024-29 is to evolve our year-round programme ensuring that it is substantiable, integrated into the community, and celebrates Bristol as a city of circus accessible to all. We will soon be sharing more information on what this will look like and how you can get involved. In the mean time if you would like to understand more about our work to date visit Our Impact here.

Nicole A’Court Stuart & Rhiannon Jones

Artistic Director & Executive Director, Handstand Arts

Circus City festival is proud to have George Ferguson, Bristol’s first elected Mayor, as our patron.

George kicked off Bristol’s ambition to be a City of Circus in 2012 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of our work ever since

Meet The Team:

Amy Nicholls

Board Member

Kate Webb

Chair of the Board

Sascha Goslin

Board Member

Tabitha Moyle

Treasurer and Board Member

Nicole A’Court Stuart

Artistic Director

Rhiannon Jones

Executive Director

Thea Woodrow

General Manager

Kate Hartoch

Associate Director

We are grateful to our supporters who have made our work possible:


Handstand Arts is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, No. 1181762