Save NICA – Melbourne’s circus school future under threat

The National Institue of Circus Arts (NICA) is the only institution in Australia which offers a Bachelor of Circus Arts and after 10 years as a highly respected school for up and coming circus performers, its future now sadly hangs in the balance.

NICA. Image by David Wyatt 2012On June 25, Days short of becoming an independent institution, after many months of negotiations with parent university Swinburne University of Technology, the Board of NICA and its CEO Pamela Creed, were suddenly dismissed from duty and a statement issued which shocked both the student body, the directors and the public.

“From 1 July 2013, Swinburne will directly manage NICA after it was recognised both by Swinburne and NICA that NICA was not yet in a position to become independent.”

According to a website dedicated to fighting this decision (, the NICA Board and NICA students were unaware that Swinburne had halted negotiations for the institution’s independence, which were extremely close to being signed off.

A statement issued by the Chair and Independent NICA Directors was released, indicating the surprise of the NICA stakeholders.

“We were shocked to be advised that SUT has announced that they have ceased all action regarding independence and now propose an alternative course of action to directly manage NICA.

The independent Directors were not consulted, nor consented to, the proposed course of action that SUT is unilaterally seeking to impose on NICA.

Students of NICA have also posed questions about their future, with particular concern for the course itself:

“What does a University with a history of dropping arts programs, want and plan to do with Australia’s only Degree accredited Circus Arts Program that was so close to its own independence?”, they asked in a separate statement.

The future of circus arts in Australia is at extreme risk, and NICA supporters are entreating all artists and arts lovers to help change the fate of this important institution.

Visit for more information and to sign their petition to save the school.


Those who support NICA’s quest for independence are also urged to rally behind the staff and studnets by urgently contacting the Federal Arts Minister, The Hon.Tony Burke, the Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Denis Napthine, the Victorian Arts Minister, The Hon. Heidi Victoria, Federal Shadow Arts Minister, Senator George Brandis and other local members as well as the Swinburne Council and insisting that negotiations for an independent NICA be continued.

AussieTheatre has featured images from countless NICA shows – check out a selection below thanks to photographer David Wyatt.

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

2 thoughts on “Save NICA – Melbourne’s circus school future under threat

  • I have been to so many NICA Productions and I am devastated that this brilliant performance training arena has not received the recognition it deserves. The creativity, the passion, the reviews, the progressive careers of so many of the graduates will be lost. What on earth are we doing to save the Arts in this country. NICA produces world class performers trained by world class teachers. For the sake of those people who have applauded these performers and for the performers yet to come we can’t afford to lose this Institute. You have my full support. Maureen Andrew

  • NICA provides the only professional training in Australia for circus artists. This art form has experienced a massive renaissance in recent years. Is Australia really going to allow this to happen?
    Philistines. Shameful.


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