Much-hyped Circus Academy fails to draw students

KANNUR: When the Circus Academy at Chirakkuni village near Thalassery was inaugurated in 2010, it was seen as a great step to revive the industry. But the academy failed to take off in the expected manner. It still works from a rented premise that was formerly a cinema theatre.
"People feel that circus has no future and hence are reluctant to send their wards here," said M P Velayudhan, the CEO of the academy.

"Circus artists from Kerala do not want their children to enter this field and the students undergoing training here are from northeastern states and Nepal," he said.

Though they can admit 20 students in a batch, they have only 10 students. Hostel and food is being provided to the students. All of them are admitted in the Meethalepeedika UP school near Dharmadom, where they attend the training before and after school hours.

"The project is being reworked and they are also planning to include gymnastic training in the academy. The process for the acquisition of 10 acres near the engineering college at Kundoor Mala is in the final stage," he said.

From this year, the academy is also planning to admit regular school students in the age group of 9 to 14 years. By this they expect that some students from the circus families in Dharmadom would join the course.

"Once the academy introduces training in gymnastics with the cooperation of the Sports Council, we can mould talents who can compete in events like Asian Games and Olympics," he said.

However, the five temporary staff including three trainers and two cooks are a worried lot. "We are working here with the hope that it will become a big institution though we have not got salary for the last 10 months," said K Raghavan, a former circus artist, who is now a trainer here. "If the government does not take steps to attract more children into this field, circus industry will be a thing of the past."

Meanwhile, district collector Rathan Kelkar said the district administration has taken all steps to start the work of a permanent campus for the academy.with all the state-of-the-art facilities and modern equipment, and once that becomes a reality all their worries would be eased.

"Fund is not an issue for the circus academy and if everything goes according to our plan, we would be able to start the work of the new campus in the beginning of the next financial year," said the district collector, who is also the chairman of the academy. But the academy will have a future only when the circus artists get recognition in the society as well as some financial security. And for that, the industry should be revived, feel those who are associated with circus.