about the conference

19 - 20 October 2023

The Australian Circus Summit is a global event that invites delegates to converge into NICA’s purpose-built circus venue for a two-day melting pot of conversations that will challenge and inspire current industry views revolving around the theme of The Moving State of Circus.

Embark on an unprecedented journey as the heart of the circus world hosts a ground breaking event at NICA, leading the industry discourse. This event challenges the notion of Circus as a 'lesser relative' in performing arts, aiming to unite the sector by bridging gaps between artists, presenters, producers, funders, and supporters. Through innovative collaborations and connections, we'll explore novel ways to integrate circus performances into venues and expand artistic horizons. Join us in crafting compelling partnerships, cultivating relationships, and shaping the future of circus engagement for artists and audiences alike.

This will be an intimate event with a capacity of 200, bringing independent circus artists, producers, festival programmers, venue presenters, and the NICA community together in one room to dissolve industry barriers and facilitate networking.

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Digital Tickets available now

This event will be live streamed

The 2023 Australian Circus Summit will be live streamed thanks to the Australian Digital Concert Hall.
Be a part of the discussion from anywhere across the globe.

day one day two day one + two

Keynote Speakers

A stellar lineup of speakers stands ready to infuse the circus summit with fresh inspiration, capable of reshaping the art's core. Drawing from unique experiences, they'll unveil circus's limitless potential, pushing its boundaries and opening paths to uncharted territories. By sharing top industry practices, they'll offer actionable insights, inviting us to harness circus's transformative power in unprecedented ways. Prepare for a journey of discovery as these dynamic voices redefine the future and illuminate unexplored horizons.

Darcy Grant

Artistic Director
Gravity & Other Myths

Anna Robb

Executive Producer
Our Legacy Creations

Featured speakers

Immerse yourself in the wisdom and ingenuity of visionary speakers spanning generations and art forms. 

Malia Walsh (The MC)

Artistic Director
Circus Trick Tease

Kahuraki Marino Aroha Bronsson-George

Cultural Advisor

Stacy Clark

Circus Talk

Simon Abrahams

CEO & Creative Director
Melbourne Fringe Festival

Katherine Connor

Executive Director
PAC Australia

Mary Chackola

National Engagement Manager
Philanthropy Australia

Nic Clark

Nicholas Clark Management

Steph Cox

Executive Director
Women's Circus

Shaun Comerford

Executive Director
CIRCA Contemporary Circus

Monica Davidson

Creative Plus Business

Elena Kirschbaum
Artistic Director & Co-Director
Highwire Entertainment & Gluttony

Steven Richardson

Manager, Development and Partnerships
Creative Australia

Dr Kathy Yu

Sports Doctor
National Institute of Circus Arts

Thomas Gorham

Head First Acrobats

Nicci Wilks

Freelance Artist
Circus Oz

Natano Fa'anana

Co-Founder, Creative Director
Casus Creations

Pippin Remi

Senior Manager, Creative Learning
Regional Arts Victoria

Laura Colby

Elsie Management (USA)

Aaron Marquise

Coordinator for the International Market of Contemporary Circus (MICC)
TOHU, Montréal.

Sherene Stewart

Festival Co-Lead / Creative Lead

Dylan Singh

Independent Artist

Kate Fell

Artistic Director
Darwin Festival

Antonella Casella

Course Convenor in Circus History, Culture and Representation
National Institute of Circus Arts

Emily Wells

Executive Producer

Rockie Stone

Theatre Maker, Rigger, Set Designer, Production Manager

Tiny Good

Showtech Australia

Jay Withee

Head of Services & Support
TAIT - Asia

Chelsea Donoghue

Sanicki Lawyers

Darren Sanicki

Principal & Founder
Sanicki Lawyers

Katherine Giles

Head of Legal and Operations
Arts Law Australia

Andrea Ousley

Community and social circus trainer, workshop facilitator, circus director
National Institute of Circus Arts

Jill Maglio

Holistic Circus Therapy and Circus Aid

Nicole Beyer

Executive Director
Theatre Network Australia

Thomas Hinz

Creative Director

Jim Rimmer

Head of Programs
Arts Wellbeing Collective

Dr David Munro

Head Physiotherapist
National Institute of Circus Arts

Simona Jobbagy

National Institute of Circus Arts

Hendrik Frobel

Chamäleon Berlin

Edwina Lunn

Executive Producer

Katy Warner

Creative Producer
Arts Centre Melbourne

Dylan Cole

Head of Venue Planning
Arts Centre Melbourne

Heidi Irvine

Head of Programming
Frankston Arts Centre

Fergus Linehan


Michelle Bingham

Acting Venue Coordinator and Venue Operations Leader
The Drum Theatre

Gideon Obarzanek

Co-Artistic Director and Co-CEO

Anni Davey

Artistic Director
Flying Fruit Fly Circus

Stephen Henderson

Coordinator Creative Spaces
Bendigo Venues

Sarah Platts

Lighting Designer, Production and Stage Manager

Patrick McCarthy

Executive Director
Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres

Kate Malone

Executive Producer
Cluster Arts

Jono Perry

Executive Director, Curatorial

Anke Politz

Artistic Director
Chamäleon Berlin

Mark Sinclair

Director, Engagement
Committee for Melbourne

Suzanne Daley

Director of Philanthropy
Arts Centre Melbourne

Alice Cadwell

General Manager
Spaghetti Circus

Harlow Carey

Gravity Dolls

The Program

Day One: Thursday 19 October

8.15am—9am: Registration & Coffee

Session 1:        9am—10.30am

Welcome Address: NICA Director, Simona Jobbagy
Opening Keynote Address: Darcy Grant (Gravity & Other Myths)

Catered Morning Tea & Networking | 10.30am—11am

Session 2:         11am—12pm

Panel: The Mechanisms of Engagement
Session Takeaways:

  • A well informed understanding of current audience trends.
  • Insights into successful techniques applied to other artforms

Speakers: Anni Davey (Flying Fruit Fly Circus), Katherine Connor (PAC Australia), Elena Kirschbaum (Highwire Entertainment, Gluttony) Facilitator: Nicole Beyer (Theatre Network Australia)

Catered Lunch & Networking | 12pm—1pm

Sessions 3-5:     1pm—1:50
BREAK OUT SESSIONS | choose one of three

Panel: There’s Laws for That
Session Takeaways:

  • An understanding of personal and legal rights when working on productions.
  • Knowledge of how to seek out resources on legal matters, and who to approach if needed.         

Speakers: Darren Sanicki (Sanicki Lawyers) & Chelsea Donoghue (Sanicki Lawyers), Katherine Giles (Arts Law Australia) Facilitator: Nic Clark (Nicholas Clark Management)

Panel: Social Circus for Social Change
Session Takeaways:

  • Insight into positionality of the social circus landscape.
  • Fundamental knowledge on access that can be applied to projects and venues.

 Speakers: Thomas Hinz (Circability NZ), Jill Maglio (Circus Aid), Andrea Ousley (NICA) Facilitator: Alice Cadwell (Spaghetti Circus)

Panel: A wealth of health
Session Takeaways: 

  • What we can do to change the sector to create a future to support 
  • Holistic models for prevention and care

Speakers: Dr Kathy Yu (NICA), Dr David Munro (NICA), Jim Rimmer (Arts Wellbeing Collective) Facilitator: Steph Cox (Women’s Circus)

Session 6:         2pm—3pm

Presentation: Presenter Pitches Venues
Session Takeaways:

  • An understanding of the venues, their programming habits, the audiences they service, giving everyone a robust knowledge of what level of circus they engage with and how artists can engage with them in return.

Speakers: Dylan Cole (Arts Centre Melbourne), Katy Warner (Arts Centre Melbourne), Stephen Henderson (Bendigo Venues), Jono Perry (QPAC), Fergus Linehan (Carriageworks), Anke Politz (Chamäleon Berlin) Facilitator: Patrick McCarthy (Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres)

Catered Afternoon Tea & Networking | 3pm—3.30pm

Session 7:         3.30pm— 4.20pm

Presentation: Commercial Adaptability
Session Takeaways:

  • An intimate insight into a world renowned circus company straight from the source, with a practical assessment of their adaptability in the landscape of entertainment.
  • Inspiration and motivation to think differently about the form of circus.

Speakers: Shaun Comerford (CIRCA) & Anke Politz (Chamäleon Berlin) & Hendrik Frobel (Chamäleon Berlin) Facilitator: Malia Walsh (Circus Trick Tease)

Session 8:         4.30pm— 5pm

Presentation: Day One Wrap Up

5pm-6:15pm Drinks | Gathering & Networking

The Program

Day Two: Friday 20 October

8.30am — 9am: Registration & Coffee

Session 1:          9am — 10am

Panel: The Role of Circus within the broader Performing Arts
Session Takeaways:

  • An enhanced understanding of how circus relates to other artforms and identifying unique attributes within the ecology.

Speakers: Antonella Casella (NICA), Kate Malone (Cluster Arts), Pippin Remi (Regional Arts Victoria) Facilitator: Stacy Clark (Circus Talk) 

Catered Morning Tea & Networking   10am — 10:30am

Session 2:         10.30am — 11.25am 

Presentation: Presenter Pitches (Festivals)
Session Takeaways:

  • An understanding of the festivals, their programming habits, the audience they service, giving everyone a robust knowledge of their festival and how artists can engage with them in return.

Speakers: Kate Fell (Darwin Festival), Gideon Obarzanek (RISING), Emily Wells (YIRRAMBOI), Aaron Marquise (MICC, Montreal) Facilitator: Heidi Irvine (Frankston Arts Centre)

Session 3:         11.30am — 12.30pm 

Panel: Run Like You Stole Something
Session Takeaways:

  • The business of understanding your practice, venue and artists, why are you programming something, making something and what’s the SMART business plan.

Speakers: Stacy Clark (Circus Talk), Monica Davidson (Creative Plus Business), Laura Colby (Elsie Management), Shaun Comerford (CIRCA) Facilitator: Edwina Lunn (RISING) 

Catered Lunch & Networking   12:30pm — 1pm

Sessions 4-6:  1pm — 1.50pm
BREAK OUT SESSIONS (pick one of three)

Panel: The Culture of Creativity
Session Takeaways:

  • Cultural storytelling: a conversation about how culture influences the creative process.

Speaker: Kahuraki Marino Aroha Bronsson-George (Circability NZ), Sherene Stewart (YIRRAMBOI), Dylan Singh (Independent Artist) Facilitator: Natano Fa’anana (Casus Creations)  

Panel: Putting the Fun(d) in Fundraising
Session Takeaways:

  • An introduction to potential fundraising streams, and how to approach them.
  • Correct language and dialogue to create meaningful ongoing connections. 

Speakers: Steven Richardson (Creative Australia), Mary Chackola (Philanthropy Australia), Suzanne Daley (Arts Centre Melbourne) Facilitator: Mark Sinclair (Committee for Melbourne) 

Panel: It’s all rigged: How to anchor the industry
Session Takeaways:

  • The roadmap of how to do it and who to bring in to make it happen.
  • Tangible knowledge on enabling the ability to rig aerial performance confidently within venues. 
  • Facilitate dialogue between venues, riggers, artist and discuss possibilities and compromises.

Speakers: Jay Withee, (TAIT Hong Kong), Tiny Good (Showtech Australia), Rockie  Stone (Independent), Sarah Platts (Independent) Facilitator: Michelle Bingham (The Drum Theatre) 

Session 7:         2pm — 3pm 

Panel: Getting on with it 
Session Takeaways:

  • How can venues, festivals and producers assist the independent artists and the companies they run and ideas / actions we can take to future proof the industry.

Speakers: Nicci Wilks (Independent, Circus Oz), Tom Gorham (Independent, Head First Acrobats), Harlow Carey (Independent, Gravity Dolls) Facilitator: Simon Abrahams (Melbourne Fringe) 

Catered Afternoon Tea & Networking   3pm — 3:30pm

Session 8:         3.30pm — 4.20pm 

Closing Keynote Presentation: A Big Top of an Idea
Session Takeaways:

  • How do you create a show, where do you begin and who do you invite in to collaborate with.

Speaker: Anna Robb (Our Legacy Creations) Facilitator: Malia Walsh (Circus Trick Tease) 

Session 9:         4.30pm — 5pm 

Presentation: Wrap Up 

5pm — 6:15pm | Drinks | Gathering & Networking


Here are some quick answers to frequent questions. 

Extra questions? Please contact:

Public Transport:
From Flinders Street Station take the Sandringham Line train to Windsor or Prahran Stations. The Number 6 Glen Iris Tram runs along Swanston Street. The closest stop is on the corner of High and Chapel Streets. Trams operate from 5.30am to 12.00pm midnight and with extended services available on Friday and Saturday nights. Visit for timetable information.

There are bike paths along Chapel Street. NICA has a bike rack next to it's entrance.

There is limited on street parking around NICA. However there are paid parking stations nearby.

Please respect our neighbours
If departing our venue late at night, please respect our neighbours and keep noise to a minimum. Please obey parking street signs and restrictions.

The roads around NICA have limited 1, 2 and 3 hour street parking. The nearest metered car park is on Union Street (131 - 133 Union Street, Windsor) and opposite the Windsor station on Chapel Street. The Prahran Square carpark is open 24 hours 30-40 Izett Street, Prahran.

If departing our venue late at night, please respect our neighbours and keep noise to a minimum. Please obey parking street signs and restrictions.

Yes! Entry on street level - entire space including entrance points, is wheelchair accessible. The only stairs in the building is the tiered seating in the NCC theatre. If you are using a wheelchair, a front row seat on ground level will be arranged - please let us know at the time of booking:

It is a two-day ticketed event! Filled with incredible speaker, you wont want to miss.

We will have a coffee cart and catering for the event.


This project is proudly supported by: