The Centre national des arts du cirque - France

The Centre national des arts du cirque is a higher education and research establishment created in 1985 at the initiative of the ministry of Culture.
More than 400 artists from 35 different countries have graduated from from its National Higher School, and are now major players on the international contemporary circus scene.

The Cnac missions are as follows:

• Higher education in the circus arts

- a higher education establishment authorized to deliver the Dnsp (national higher professional diploma), jointly with the UFR Arts of the University of Picardie Jules Verne by a Bachelor's degree in "Arts" - "Performing Arts" course - " Circus Arts" option.
Following some extensive work in connection with the new accreditation procedure for its range of training courses, the CNAC will be offering the entire DNSP course (three years) at its Châlons-en-Champagne site from the start of the 2020 academic year. Starting with the graduating class recruited in 2020 (graduating in 2023), the course of study will now be accredited by:
- the Culture Diploma: National Higher Professional Diploma for Circus Artists (DNSP-AC),
- and a degree in Performing Arts awarded by the University of Reims-Champagne-Ardenne (URCA).
- a professional integration unit that includes a group graduation show, personal help on individual student projects, and help integrating circus companies.

Lifelong learning

- training of trainers and state diploma of circus teacher,
- transversal and innovative artistic training,
- qualifying technical training,
- master class,
- training for artistic and cultural education,
- validation of acquired experience (VAE),
- certifications for circus professions,
- tailor-made training.

• A research and resource centre


- a resource centre, in association with the Bibliothèque nationale de France / BnF, open to the public (professionals, students and researchers, etc.), with an audio-visual production unit.

- a service dedicated to research et innovation in the field of circus arts. Through this activity, the CNAC initiates and develops an open conversation and dialogue with educational methods and the production of documentary resources.
The projects undertaken or supported cover various fields :
• building bridges with Higher Art Education institutions and several universities (support and cooperation in various research programmes),
• participation or co-organisation of study days, symposiums, -
• collaboration in workshops, research laboratories,
• welcoming and hosting researchers and organising exchanges with performing arts professionals.

The ICiMa Chair - Circus and Puppet Innovation

Within this framework, in partnership with the International Puppetry Institute of Charleville-Mézières, the CNAC has set up the ICiMa Chair - Circus and Puppet Innovation, which deals with three main areas: materials, gesture and movement, and terminology.

CARP - Circus Arts Research Platform

Finally, the service dedicated to research has set up the CARP platform specifically designed for scientific research in the circus arts. This bilingual website provides free access to a set of scientific resources in circus arts. It promotes research and facilitates the exchange and circulation of academic research in this field.

The Cnac is a well-established international reference that defends the values of the circus arts spirit, including rigour, self-control, group work and respect for others.
Through its excellent training programme, it aims to be at the cutting edge of educational, artistic and technical innovation, to better serve its students, researchers and circus professionals, as well as the performing arts in general.

The Cnac is a state operator financed by the Directorate General for Artistic Creation/DGCA of the French ministry of Culture. It is supported by the Grand Est regional council, the Marne departmental council and the City and the Urban community of Châlons-en-Champagne.

New workspaces

Over the past years, the Cnac has undergone major developments with :

- in 2010/ 2011, the successful renovation of the historic circus (dating back to the 19th century), which has housed the school since its creation,

- then, in 2012/2013, its contemporary buildings at the La Marnaise site, a former agricultural wasteland situated nearby. The architectural project has integrated new constructions with existing buildings perfectly, in keeping with the local identity.
Destined for teaching the circus arts, the site includes a specific aerial space known as the "grand volant" (13.50m high). In addition there are 13 new studios to host artists and guest teachers, as well as spaces dedicated to research and innovation, particularly the design and construction of new apparatus. The site is also used by teachers from the Pierre Bayen high school in Châlons-en-Champagne, for teaching the high school diploma – circus arts option.
This extension facilitates the redeployment of a number of activities in and around the traditional circus: in particular, public performances given by students, lifelong learning, a documentation and research centre and the participation of a number of researchers.

This construction was financed by the State, with the support of the Champagne-Ardenne Regional Council, the Marne County Council, the City and the Châlons-en-Champagne Agglomeration Community.

Finally, since the winter of 2021, the CNAC is also renovating and converting a hangar at the La Marnaise site : currently used for storage, it will become a training site for technical professions, circus safety and aerial work (work expected to be completed for the 2022/2023 academic year). The aim is to improve the training framework and trainee reception, ultimately developing activities.

This project was created as part of the national aid package "France Relance" to improve the energy efficiency of State and higher education buildings.

The Cnac is thus equipped with an exceptional tool that consolidates its position as a national centre dedicated to circus arts.