Thirty Years On

Way back in 1989, when Lisa Stansfield and New Kids on the Block (ask your mums and dads kids!) were topping the charts, and when I had hair, the Leeds Children’s Circus (LCC) was born.

It all began when Pete Turner arrived in Leeds with an idea to form a circus school and he met up with Steve Ward, a teacher who was putting together a schools circus project for the Leeds Arts Festival. Together they drew up a plan and with the help of a grant from Children in Need the new Leeds Children’s Circus was set up on the top floor of the Roseville Building (now sadly demolished).

The LCC set off in a big way with a lot of media coverage. The schools circus project involved 8 different schools in the Harehills and Chapeltown area and was a huge success. It swelled the numbers of young people coming to the LCC.

By February 1991 the LCC was so popular that it had been invited to take part in a week-long festival at the École du Cirque de Bruxelles in Belgium. Yorkshire TV came with us and made a 30 minute documentary titled ‘School without Nets’. In the summer of 1991, Steve and some adult volunteers took a small group of LCC members to Bratislava and Prague, in what was then Czechoslovakia. They teamed up with the Gong Youth Theatre to take part in workshops and give performances.

Another huge success. In 1992, the LCC hosted the first ever International Youth Circus Festival in Leeds, organised by Steve. It was based at the Cardigan Centre in the Burley area. Groups from Belgium, and Germany joined with the LCC for a week of workshops and performances. The festival went under the title of ACTU8! The LCC was becoming so popular that it opened a branch in the East of Leeds at the Studios La Pointe in Garforth, as well as continuing at the Cardigan Centre. It is certain to say that the opening few years of the Leeds Children’s Circus were extremely busy and, with all its ups and downs over the years, I am pleased to see that it is still going strong.

Steve Ward