Simon says: Fly with me

AN extra $2.122 million from the taxpayer would help make the Flying Fruit Fly Circus a national leader in training and performance, executive director Richard Hull said yesterday.

Arts Minister Simon Crean is providing the money over four years under the federal government’s National Cultural Policy released yesterday.

The circus trains about 80 students from years 3 to 12 and is the only circus in Australia linked to a select-entry public school, in Wodonga.

It was delighted by the funding announcement as it would “provide security for our future”.

“This very welcome and significant funding increase recognises that the Flying Fruit Fly Circus — as a regional company — can be a national leader in circus training and performance for young people in Australia,” Mr Hull said.

In 2010 circus chiefs expressed serious concerns at the lack of operational funding, despite having received $3.75 million from the government for its new $5.6 million training centre in South Albury.

Circus officials and Border MPs sat down with Mr Crean at the end of 2010 to discuss a proposed new funding model.

Mr Hull said that the circus already enjoyed an international reputation for excellence.

“This announcement reinforces our position as a national cultural leader, training the next generation of Australian circus artists and producing high quality shows for young audiences and families,” he said.

The circus will direct the extra money towards key areas of operation and development, including its performance program.

Mr Hull said the government acknowledged the circus as an important member of the Australian Roundtable of Arts Training Excellence, a group of “elite” arts training organisations.

That put the circus in the same company as the Australian Ballet School, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, the Australian National Academy of Music, the National Institute of Circus Arts and the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

“We have recent graduates performing in Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz, Caus, Acrobat, Tom Tom Crew, the Wiggles, the new King Kong musical and many more.”

Mr Hull said the funding recognised the Fruit Fly Circus’ 34 years of training and performance excellence.

“This announcement is a terrific boost and the commonwealth is to be applauded for the boldness and scope of this initiative,” Mr Hull said.