Brought to you by the American Circus Alliance.
Seminars are free for members, or $25 or by donation for non-members.

January 18, 12 pm EST

To be or not to be Not for Profit: aka Gain funding / lose ownership; Create legacy / file paperwork.

Are you wondering if you should make the move to become a nonprofit so you can apply for grants? Wondering if access to more arts funding and donor generosity is worth making that choice? What does it mean to be nonprofit anyway? Join us for this legal seminar led by experienced nonprofit attorneys, where we will introduce you to the pros and cons of setting up a tax-exempt nonprofit by addressing questions regarding:

For-Profit vs. Nonprofit?

What is a Nonprofit? (Legal structure)

What does it mean to be a 501(c)(3)?

Alternative: Fiscal Sponsorship

The presentation will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

Sponsored by the American Circus Alliance, Nimble Arts, and the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Inc.

Presenter: Luke Blackadar, Deputy Director, Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Inc.

Luke Blackadar manages the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston’s Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts program. An entertainment attorney, Luke counsels individual artists, creative small businesses, and arts nonprofits on legal issues relating to contracts, intellectual property, legal entities, and nonprofit governance. In addition to his work at the Arts & Business Council, Luke teaches at Roger Williams University School of Law and the Boston University Metropolitan College, and he serves on the board of directors of the Community Music School of Boston. Luke is a graduate of Clark University and Northeastern University School of Law, and in his spare time, he enjoys drawing, running, reading, and playing video games.


February 15, 3 pm EST

Social Media Strategies for Artists

Shenea Stiletto and Kim Campbell will co-lead this workshop called Social Media Strategies for Artists. During the workshop they will share a quick overview of current theory on best practices in social media promotion for artists before opening up the group to a discussion around hot button issues like burn out, time commitment to self-promotion, and how to protect your work. They’ll also define strategies, tips and insights they have gained through their own social media work and also through their conversations with other artists. Join them for this exciting idea exchange and share your successes and challenges from your social media experience.

Sponsored by the American Circus Alliance

Presenter Bio:

Kim Campbell (they/them) is a writer and editor who has written about circus for many circus and arts publications including Du Ma Xi, CircusTalk, ACE Magazine, Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, and Circus Promoters. They were a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. Kim is the former editor-in-chief of CircusTalk and of American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where they write about circus, theatre, arts and culture. Kim is a proud card-carrying member of the American Theater Critics Association and the International Network of Circus Arts Magazines. In 2019, Kim was on the jury of FIRCO in Madrid (Circus Festival Iberoamericano) and in 2021 was on the voting committee for the International Circus Awards.

Shenea Stiletto is a two-time World Champion Gold Medalist in Acrobatic gymnastics, a USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Member, and World Acrobatic Society Inductee. Her career includes a decade of collaborations with Cirque Du Soleil including the coveted hand balancing role as “The Promise” in Varekai, becoming the first-ever African American female soloist to play a lead character & acrobatic role in a Cirque Du Soleil production. Shenea was also a finalist on America’s Got Talent, and has continued to be a featured artist with prominent circus entertainment companies worldwide. She is also a circus trainer, advocate, educator, dual circus podcast host for the Pro Series Think Like An Acrobat produced by, and her own podcast Live Like An Acrobat.


March 18, 1 pm EST

Auditioning: The view from the other side of the table

Join the American Circus Alliance with a panel representing top circuses, circus schools and producers to hear what they are really hoping for when you step in front of their table at an audition. What to do, what not to do, before you arrive, when you arrive, after the dust settles. The panelists will lead with some introductions, frame what they look for, and then open the floor for Questions & Answers.

ACA Host: Serenity Smith Forchion (co-founder New England Center for Circus Arts, Nimble Arts)

Panelists include:

Michael Lanphear: Head Coach and Acrobatic Casting Supervisor for AIDA Cruises. I have worked both in coaching and casting roles for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize, and The Seven Fingers. Since 2013 my role at AIDA has focused mainly on assisting the company to venture into the North American casting market. The absolute number one quality I look for when casting is personality!

Gypsy Snider: Co- founder of The 7 Fingers.

Michael LaFleur: Show creator, writer, and director of ground-breaking productions for the world’s most respected entertainment companies, worldwide: Dragone, Disney, Universal, Sunac, Wanda, Resorts World, Cirque Du Soleil/Las Vegas, Moscow Circus (American edition).

Elena Day is the Director of Protrack Program and the Head of Physical Theater at The New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, VT. A graduate of the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Elena has taught, directed, and performed internationally for over 25 years. Elena originated the character of “The Green Bird” for Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba,” & was the lead clown in Cirque Mechanics’ “Boom Town.” Prior to NECCA, she directed and taught for such institutions as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap, The Studio Theater, and Cirque du Soleil.


Past Workshops

December 15, 2 pm

Circus Arts Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts

A grant information workshop led by the National Endowment for the Arts specifically for circus professionals to learn about NEA funding. The ACA offers its second national level workshop with the NEA open to anyone who considers their work to be in circus in any style or method of presentation. The NEA specifically grants to not-for-profit organizations, however we invite everyone to join to learn more about NEA guidelines, the application process, and how to work under the umbrella of a not-for-profit if you are not currently set up as such. NEA Multidisciplinary Arts Division Director and staff will share how they work to support circus arts, available to answer your questions directly, and explore opportunities for further engagement.

The Presenter: Brandon Gryde, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works and Artist Communities Director, Multidisciplinary Arts Division of the National Endowment for the Arts.
EVENTBRITE REGISTRATION HERE ($25 suggested donation)

November 13, 12 pm

ACA & AYCO/ACE joint workshop: Let’s Talk About Insurance

October 18, 12 pm EST

Riggers & Aerialists: Safe Dancer / Mutual Trust

(A discussion with circus professionals)

Andy Schmitz and Ginger Griep-Ruiz take a look at aerial rigging from the performer’s point of view in a discussion on how to foster a collaborative artist/technical relationship; one that leads to an innovative and fun working environment based on safe danger, and mutual trust.

Fee: Free or by Donation

Sept 19, 7 pm EST

Employment Safety for First of Mays

(A discussion with circus professionals)

Hosted by Polly Solomon (founder Young Adult Circus Arts Mentor Project YACAMP) and Elsie Smith (founder New England Center for Circus Arts and Nimble Arts)

A First of May is the name given to new circus artists who traditionally arrive on their first circus lot the First of May to prepare for a summer tour. This workshop is intended to help new circus folks understand what they can DO to ensure success and positivity in your career path while avoiding potential pitfalls. We will discuss topics like why a contract is vital and what it should cover, how to identify appropriate and inappropriate behavior from an employer, ways to pre-empt and prevent unwanted experiences, and who to turn to when you’re not sure. A vital conversation for new circus performers and crew and useful for folks already in the industry.

Fee: Free or by Donation

Monday, July 12th – 10am

ACA Workshop: Returning to play

(A discussion with circus professionals)

Moderator: Aloysia Gavre (founder Cirque School LA and Troupe Vertigo, formerly with Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Mechanics)
The pandemic hit everyone hard, particularly those in the performing arts. Come listen and learn from our roundtable of circus pro’s as they discuss how they mentally and physically kept themselves healthy over the past year, and the challenges they are now facing as they return or look for work. Share stories and ask questions of artists whose resumes include Cirque du Soleil, Troupe Vertigo, Midnight Circus, Absinthe, Cirque Mechanics, Universoul Circus, and more.

Part of a Workshop Series Offered to members of the American Circus Alliance

Fee: Free or by Donation

Do you have an idea for offering a workshop or a suggestion for future content? Feel free to contact us at!

Frequently Asked Questions


Join Our Newsletter