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The Utopians Call for Expressions of Interest is Closed!


Thank you to all who submitted. 




About the Utopians

In July 2020, the MICC (Marché International de Cirque Contemporain/International Market for Contemporary Circus) launched a working group focused on supporting the creation of new work in contemporary circus. The group chose to focus specifically on artists, especially but not limited to women artists and artists of color, who were neither emerging nor well-known (aka ‘mid-career’), and whose work was concept-driven.  


The working group’s members are deeply engaged in circus’ current transformations, from its insightful repurposing of long held traditions to its embrace of storytelling and abstract expression to its personalization of a much beloved performance experience. We agree that the moment has come to support new works with professional commitment.  


In this first round, 35 artists were nominated through an internal process and 9 of these artists were invited to submit project pitches to the group. Of these nine project ideas, two have been developed into full-scale works which premiered independently of the group in 2022; two are in active development towards premieres in 2024; and two have premiered under the auspices of group members as commissioning partners in 2022.  


Overall, many of the artists who participated commented that the involvement of the Working Group was motivating for them and helped them combat the feeling of isolation that often accompanies the earliest stages of imagining a new piece.  


The Working Group then reviewed its strengths and opportunities and adopted a new name: The Utopians. Like “utopians” of literature, we look to the future of circus as a boundless opportunity for unimagined creativity.  We are comprised of 15 members from 6 countries, including some of the leading presenters of circus in North America and Europe.   


The Utopians have fine-tuned our role as providing seed support in the form of a very minor cash grant plus substantive in-kind consultation to artists and companies at the earliest stage of ideation of a new work in contemporary circus.  


Through our involvement, we hope to help new ideas to get to a point in which the artist is well-positioned to advocate for larger funding in the form of commissioning requests and creation grant applications. The MICC marketplace will offer projects an additional level of visibility along this journey as appropriate.   

About the Call


The Utopians’ 2023 Call for Candidates is now open. Recognizing the often-exclusionary nature of an internal nominating process, we are opening our call to all artists or companies interested in joining our movement who match the following eligibility criteria:  

  • 5 years or more experience creating new work (5+ years since graduation from circus school)  

  • Idea in mind which is in its embryonic stage (if a premiere is already set, it should be 12+ months in the future; if a premiere is not yet set, that is fine)  

  • The project must be noncommercial in nature; intended to tour in multidisciplinary arts centers and festivals or in contemporary circus festivals  

  • The idea must be concept-driven/idea-driven (the point of departure should be ‘WHY’ rather than ‘HOW’-- please do not propose a show built around a certain apparatus, trick, existing circus act, the set of physical abilities of a particular performer, or the marketability of the show towards the entertainment industry)  

  • Acts and cabaret concepts (formats in which acts are linked together by an emcee) are not accepted, unless you can make a strong case for the concept or ideas  

  • Artists who are new to the commissioning process are encouraged to apply 

  • This call is encouraging equity, diversity, and inclusive representation in contemporary circus. All are encouraged to apply.  


Deadline to submit: MAY 2, 2023

Notifications: MAY 23, 2023


Three artists/projects will be selected in 2023. All of the selected projects will receive a combination of the following:  

  • A cash grant of $500CAN to reflect the time and effort invested in developing the concept for presentation to the group;  

  • A ‘package’ of mentorship and/or producing assistance and residency time, adapted in relation to the geographic location of the artist and group members  

  • Visibility opportunities for the artist in line with the MICC Market 2023 and/or 2024   

 We look forward to seeing your unique and thought-provoking ideas in the world of contemporary circus! 


Please note that if submitting a written application via google forms is not accessible to you, we welcome you to get in touch with aaron.marquise@tohu.ca to discuss an alternative means of submission. 







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