Winter Quarter Enews 2022


Three months since the floods ravaged the Bundjalung country Northern Rivers of NSW, not once but twice, and we are still experiencing the devastation. The challenges of climate change are fresh, real and unavoidable. Pre covid we experienced the extreme bushfires in our area; it was the last time the Mullumbimby Music Festival played to packed houses, with smoke-filled skies. These times seem like a distant memory of a time long past, yet somehow so fresh and raw. We measure flood recovery in years, not months. 

On Monday, 28 February, the Mullumbimby Showgrounds, Spaghetti Circus’s home, sheds, containers, and vehicles were underwater with half a metre to a metre of water, mud and muck. Before then, like artists around the country, we had canceled our festivals, shows and tours. The vaccine mandates divided our small community, but the floods brought us together. 

The floods have taught us that together we are stronger; we need to ask for and accept help. We need to listen deeply to the country we live on and our elders who go before us. 

It’s an incredibly humbling and gratifying experience to know that our community loves our organisation. Artists, friends, families and communities rallied to support us; we helped each other. Because of charitable funds raised with allies like The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Brunswick Picture House, Aerial Angels and many others, we were able to offer flood scholarships to flood-affected families. The Spaghetti kids turned up daily for six weeks to clean, scrub and rebuild.

We are also human; we make mistakes, get back up and keep going.

What do our young people need? 

They need a voice about the climate; it is their future. 

Our young people need to be creative, confident and innovative.

They need to be able to connect and share.  

How does the circus network share and connect? 

We share and connect in the youth circus world via our regular smaller group YCAN (Youth Circus Australia Network) meetings; these have been an essential part of our collegiate approach to Covid and flood recovery. Partly peer support, catch up, info exchange, and working towards the National Youth Circus Symposium and Festival in September and October. We will also be refreshing for the ‘next chapter’ through updates to the Youth Circus Manifesto. We are looking forward to celebrating Spaghetti’s 30th year and putting on one hell of a gathering. 

How can we as an arts sector share and connect regionally? 

I am interested in how we share region to region, region to metro and shake up the metrocentric touring model. It’s important to first ask ourselves, how can new systems evolve? How can we change, do better and learn together? What new partnerships exist; how do companies engage with regional artists with a genuine agency. 

As a sector, what do we need? 

We need to rebuild our confidence and connect with creativity. During Covid and the floods, we have stripped back – questioning what is needed, what is essential? We need a National Cultural Policy. We need to work together on this across sectors. 

Australia is an innovator in the arts and circus world, but now, I am tired of innovating – we are surviving. When you have nothing, all that remains is people, our networks, connections and community. Working together and sharing resources has never been more critical.

So bring on the sunshine; let’s chuck in some circus cheer and be genuinely grateful that no matter what life throws at us, no matter how big the challenge, the community will invest in you if you’ve invested in the community.

– Alice Cadwell, General Manager/ Festival Director of Spaghetti Circus and TNA CaPT Advisor 2020 – 2021