Westside Circus was founded in 1996, when the Department of Justice funded youth worker Debby Maziarz to purchase stilts and juggling balls and deliver a circus program for young female offenders at the Sunshine Juvenile Justice Unit.
Fast forward 21 years to 2017 and Westside Circus continues to find innovative ways to increase the number of Victorian young people who are physically literate, culturally aware and creatively engaged.
In 2017 we developed new partnerships with the likes of Preston Markets, Banksia Gardens Community Centre and Maroondah City Council, secured a new lease from Melbourne Polytechnic for our superb Preston venue, presented a keynote speech for the Drama Victoria Conference, entered into a new three-year funding contract with Creative Victoria, and expanded our reputation internationally as a leader in non-formal education methodologies.
"In fact, our 21 anniversary year was indeed tremendous."
Business was solid in both our Circus Classes and Community Workshop programs; we developed new education projects and ‘products’ in partnership with NICA, Shepparton ACE College and Preston Reservoir Adult Community Education. We delivered a range of unique projects, including Pages Fly, Altitude and Quarter Acre Block, and worked closely with VicSEG, Western Edge Youth Arts, Furlong Park School for Deaf Children, Ignition Theatre, Headspace Greensborough, Dee Wardrop Speech Pathology & Occupational Therapy and Concord School.
Our relationship with Darebin Council also grew. We were awarded the Darebin Business Community Contribution Award, we partnered with Families, Diversity and Community officers, were awarded a Community Grant, named as an Arts Partner, and invited to participate in numerous events hosted by the Councillors.
There were so many highlights in 2017; our Turning 21 Showcase spectacular, the publication of a delightful children’s book, Zengilo and Bengilo, creating new curriculum for circus skills development; but hosting participants from three international organisations for a week long youth exchange called National Treasures, would have to rank among the top. It was a fantastic achievement, and participants and staff worked together incredibly well to make it the success it was. Well done.
Also I’d like to wish the entire team, Jane Hartnell, Jafar Abdus-Samad and Christine Ritter, in the office, and all the trainers and Board members, massive congratulations for a successful 21st anniversary celebration year.
As always however, the biggest thanks is reserved to all our supporters. The parents, schools and community groups who understand the benefits circus can bring to young people, our funding partners and philanthropic support and lastly, the youth themselves. You continue to impress me with your skills, dedication, imagination and courage. Thank you to all!