This Wednesday, March 6, the cross-border cooperation project EKO – Pirineus de Circ was presented at the Center for the Creation of Performing Arts – El Canal. As one of the Catalan partners of the project, El Canal de Salt has hosted the presentation of this project which will bring together 14 structures for the training, creation and dissemination of shows between April 2024 and April 2027. The objective of ‘EKO is to allow the cross-border circus sector to make its ecological transition, transforming its model of creation, production and distribution in order to imagine and apply new artistic forms adapted to the transition and reduce the environmental footprint.

In Catalonia, the three project partners are El Canal de Salt, Xarxa Transversal and La Central del Circ. The circus and itinerant arts factory, La Grainerie, located in Toulouse in Languedoc in Occitanie, is the leading partner of the project, with an 18-year history of leading European cooperation. The head of international relations at La Grainerie, Jean Marc Brocqua, has emphasized that EKO’s philosophy is to work from collaboration and cooperation between territories to adapt the circus world to ecological challenges. In this sense, he pointed out that “from the EKO project we will work on ecological solutions to the challenges that are coming now, looking to reduce the impact of carbon and work on both sides of the Pyrenees so that the contemporary circus is the echo of the world.”

To achieve its objectives, EKO – Pirineus de Circ has 14 direct partners from the territories of Catalonia, Aragon, the Basque Country, Occitania and New Aquitaine and a proposal for activities to be carried out in three years.

The scope of work that is proposed in this project is the accompaniment of circus artists throughout their journey of research, creation and distribution, with parallel accompaniment in practices of artistic mediation and ecology as to spinal cord. The project envisages accompanying the circus artists throughout their artistic process, also in the dissemination and exhibition, a phase where the centers participating in the project come into play.

From the Xarxa Transversal, one of the project’s Catalan partners, Laura Cuenca has emphasized that another of the objectives is that “all the learning that the company does in each place has a greater impact on the territory and can reach more citizens”. In fact, the president of the Transversal Network, Heidi Pérez, has highlighted that “networking creates opportunities for the generating and receiving territories and we will see how contemporary circus programming is enhanced among all the participating areas”.

The press conference was also attended by the president of the Professional Association of the Circus of Catalonia (APCC), Anna Alaverda, who admitted that as an involved sector it is key to have “projects that promote research, creation, exhibition and dissemination of our discipline and make territories that seem far away now very close thanks to the EKO – Pirineus de Circ project”.

The director of the Center for Creation and Performing Arts – El Canal, Xavier Díaz, thanked the good reception of all the members for “letting us join this project and being the smallest of those who are part of it”, while the The mayor of Salt, Jordi Viñas, explained that being present in the European project “allows El Canal to gain muscle and move towards its internationalization” and pointed out “the social impact it can have, because the circus is for many families the gateway to culture, the performing arts and, together with education, are the two basic legs to keep moving forward as a society.

The EKO Project stands out for two lines of action. On the one hand, the artists will offer mediation actions wherever they travel, in order to have an impact on the territory and take advantage of the artist’s trip and stay. On the other hand, the support of experts and consultants will be counted on in order to manage to create circus shows in a sustainable way and to make public mobility and the organization of cultural activities more respectful of the environment.

Apart from the already mentioned La Grainerie, El Canal, Xarxa Transversal and La Central del Circ, the Toulouse circus school Ésacto’Lido, Occitanie en Scène, the Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, the Ville d’Hendaye, the French dance company Malandain Ballet Biarritz, the City Council of Bilbao, the Provincial Council of Álava, the City Council and Provincial Council of Huesca and the Government of Aragon. In order to maximize the impact on the territory, apart from the three Catalan entities that are direct partners, the project has the Ateneu 9Barris, FiraTàrrega, L’Estruch de Sabadell, Tub d’assaig de Terrassa and Konvent de Berga as entities associates.

The European cross-border cooperation project EKO – Pirineus de Circ is an Interreg cooperation project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union through POCTEFA, the European Cross-Border Cooperation Program created to promote the sustainable development of the territory border between Spain, France and Andorra. The project has a budget of 1.78 million euros, of which 65% comes from European funds, while the remaining 35% is contributed by the municipalities and territories of the project partners.

The press conference closed with a sample of the circus show “Akri” by Manel Rosés, resident artist at El Canal who gave a taste of his show that will premiere in May in Reus.

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