Arcanic Brighton
Arcanic Image by Sam Elfer

ARCANIC – the new circus in town bringing affordable workshops and skillswaps to Brighton

BN1 sat down with two people making quite a big difference in the circus scene. Steve and Natalie are the proud owners of ARCANIC, a Brighton based Community Interest Company (CIC), that represents a community of performance artists who collectively provide unforgettable experiences for events and festivals across the UK. I chatted to them about their experience in a turbulent industry, their most recent show for Brighton Fringe “EMOTION IN MOTION” and what permanent plans they have for the future.

The couple started by telling me about their experiences in Brighton and the industry “we are very lucky to have opportunities to get involved with events a long time ago.” They went on to explain what they are working on now and their individual roles at Arcanic over the phone to me, whilst juggling a newborn baby in the background. Steve points out in admiration that his partner Natalie is CEO of the company who manages everything from customer outreach, bookings and community opportunities. Steve modestly said he is more behind the scenes as the technical director in charge of supporting the community, stage building or sourcing and applying for funding.

They then started to delve into how Arcanic formed, organically from just a few friends in a park messing around to meeting up more regularly in different practice spaces. After some time this gradually became Arcanic as we now know it today! They always have a few core performers in the group and then open the floor to applications, Steve described that “we get applications from other people, and we support performers from other places apart from Brighton. It’s growing like every month, every year, we just grow and flourish.” He continues to explain that Arcanic is a community interest company, “set out as a point to make sure that all the work that we do actually supports the community. We work across loads of different festivals as individuals and with Arcanic.” This collective community supports each other in all forms and often falls into other aspects of performers’ lives, as they get support with jobs or projects outside of Arcanic. However, their main focus is on building, supporting and promoting their invaluable roster of performers. They do this by reinvesting the money they make from their events back into the community by “content creation, performance photo shoots, Fringe shows to showcase their skills and form profiles as well as the general running costs you have for businesses.” It is really inspiring to see performers’ wellbeing at the forefront of a business and with the hopes of opening a permanent location in Brighton, you can soon get involved too.

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Together Steve and Natalie both sound like a force to be reckoned with and I’m eager to find out more about their new show – EMOTION IN MOTION – which unfolds as a tapestry of human emotion, skilfully woven together by an array of mesmerising circus performances and hypnotising dance routines. Each act is a testament to the power of the circus to change lives and leave an indelible mark on the performers and the audience alike. Steve describes the show as something a little bit different, “instead of being like a cabaret circus show, we focus a lot on the journey of a circus performer. Our story starts about a man that works a 9-5 job and he wants to run away to the circus, but to get there he goes through different emotions, with each act representing a different emotion.” This emotional rollercoaster is one I want to be a part of. Steve wasn’t wrong when he described the show as something a bit different, to centre the show around a very real and difficult human experience of leaving a job you don’t like in the hope for your dream job is a challenging and powerful story to tell. They have performed sell out shows over Brighton Fringe and have their last two shows on June 1st & 2nd. 

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I asked Steve and Natalie if they had any favourite past shows or projects, they both jumped at the moment to tell me about the Equinox Festival in Lincolnshire. Adding that they’ve been working very closely with the festival and have been running a variety of circus workshops for children there. Making circus skills accessible for children and teaching them how to juggle, hula hoop and more. Arcanic also highlighted how it’s not the first time performing at Brighton fringe “we’ve been part of many different shows at the Fringe. We collaborated with other performing troupes such as Malice in Wasteland, which is a group that focuses mainly on sustainable costume making. We have made costumes out of upcycled materials and have worked with them at Boomtown Festival and we’re working with them again this year. Small World Festival is another one we have worked in the past with some great groups there.” Arcanic has been busy and you can only expect more this summer with guest shows and community projects popping up all over the country. 

To find out what else Arcanic have planned for the future aside from touring, festivals and events. Natalie and Steve have decided they want their own permanent location. This way they can make a big difference for people struggling to get into the performing arts and circus world. They want to break down barriers by organising affordable classes to learn skills and to host skill swaps for people looking to share knowledge and learn from each other. A space like this is crucial for Brighton as most clubs, workshops, exercise classes or anything extracurricular ends up costing quite a bit and starts to really add up if you have more than one hobby. To combat this, Natalie is in the process of putting an application together for “the Arts Council for lottery funding. I’m aiming to secure funding so that we can cover the cost of a dedicated space and then make it an affordable space for people to host their own workshops.” The UK has been seriously lacking in providing a space for young people to go, hang out and be creative, without it costing them an arm and a leg. At last It sounds like Arcanic could be about to remedy that. 

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Steve goes on to add that Natalie is also trained to help people with special needs children, “I used to work in St.John’s College in Kemptown. I was running circus skills every week, It’s one of my passions! I really love working with people specifically with autism and learning disabilities, I really connected with them and it’s so amazing to see them grow.” Natalie is doing great things to bridge the gap in the performing arts by giving people with special needs or low income families the chance to get involved, get trained, and have the space to unleash their creativity. I am rooting for them and hope to see Arcanic studios up and running soon!

In the meantime, catch their next show at Brighton Unitarian Church on June 1st 3.30pm or at Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) on June 2nd 2pm. 

Tickets cost £15 pp or £10 concession. 

www.brightonfringe.org/events/emotion-in-motion/

www.arcanic.events

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