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Circus City Bristol


Image: Nat Whittingham by Joe Clarke

We are happy to announce the appointment of Rhiannon Jones as Executive Director and Nicole A’Court-Stuart as Artistic Director of Handstand Arts. Working alongside them will be our new General Manager Thea Woodrow. 

This new leadership comes at an exciting time for the organisation as we deliver Circus City festival and grow our work year round, bringing contemporary circus to new audiences and nourishing and showcasing our circus sector with platforms for performance and cross pollination, nationally and internationally. 

I am excited to be bringing my skills and knowledge to such a creative and passionate team. Building on the brilliant legacy and identity of a festival that connects nationally and internationally, I look forward to being part of this next part of Handstand Art’s journey” – Rhiannon Jones

The team extend their deep gratitude to outgoing co-founder and Director Kate Hartoch who has nurtured the organisation since its inception and fought to prioritise and advance our internationalism, community and local connection through turbulent times. We are delighted that she will be continuing to represent the interests of Handstand Arts and Circus City festival across the sector, as our Associate Director.

In October this year Circus City Festival will return for its 5th edition, bringing three weeks of local, national and international performances to venues across Bristol.

We are inviting local performers, creatives, producers and venues to join us for a Circus City consultation at the Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol on 25th April between 12 and 3pm. If you have an idea you would like to share with us, or thoughts about the festival for this year or in the future, please drop in for a chat with Rhiannon and Nicole.

If you can’t come in person but would like to share your thoughts and projects please email or

Rhiannon Jones – Executive Director

Rhiannon brings over 20 years’ experience working in the arts and cultural sector from traditional theatres to combined arts and community venues including Trinity Centre, Bristol, where she led the artistic programme for 8 years. Her passion is to work with and for organisations that put artists and communities at the centre of what they do, empower people to think differently about their own creativity and lead their own cultural expression. 

Rhiannon is part of the current Clore Social – Experienced Leaders Programme (2022 – 23) and holds an MA in Arts Policy and Management.

Nicole A’Court-Stuart – Artistic Director

Nicole has 10 years experience as a creative producer in the circus sector, including five years with Handstand Arts as Circus City producer and key roles developing and touring circus internationally with Extraordinary Bodies and Laura Murphy. Her Queer and neurodivergent position, coupled with her training as an RD1st coach, has led her to place accessibility, care, and representation at the core of her practice. As Artistic Director she is keen to develop the accessibility of our events and to deepen our relationships with the artists we programme and commission. Motivated by Circus research, she is passionate about the role our work can play in the continual questioning and development of what circus is and can be, and what it can offer to audiences.

Thea Woodrow – General Manager

Thea brings experience as a Producer, Finance and Project Manager over the last 7 years of working in the arts and voluntary sectors, including 5 years with international show makers Cirque Bijou. Drawing on roots in classical music, she is passionate about working creatively and collaboratively to make socially engaged, inclusive, accessible live performances, events, and experiences. Thea is excited to take on the new General Manager role for Handstand Arts, and work with Nicole and Rhiannon to grow the organisation and Circus City festival.