The Richard Award

The Richard Awards are being created in tribute to Richard Ward , founder of Fool Time in Bristol, the first professional circus school in the UK.

Update May 2018

Richard Ward had a passionate commitment to support and encourage young talent in the circus and physical theatre arts. This Award was initially created for an artist, or group who have completed professional training in Bristol.  Our original plan was to run a competition inviting applications this spring and announcing the first winner in autumn 2018.   We’ve done some ‘deep’ thinking around the process and have since realised that creating one winner also creates many ‘losers’ and this feels like the wrong approach. With hindsight, Richard himself would always have chosen collaboration and co-operation over contest and competition.

In view of this change of philosophy we are pleased to announce that now we will shortlist seven acts from the applications who will be invited to perform at a special showcase evening at Circomedia this autumn. The acts chosen will represent the main disciplines making a balanced evening’s programme. We will invite producers, festival programmers, agents and promoters to be part of the audience.

The Awards will now focus on all shortlisted acts receiving personalised professional coaching/mentoring from industry professionals to support their continued development.

We hope you agree that this is a far better tribute to Richard and that it will allow more people to benefit from a boost to their professional performing career.

We still plan to launch in Spring 2018 when the website will accept applications (more details to follow) and the first Award winners will be announced in the autumn as part of Bristol's Circus 250 celebrations. The project is being driven by Audrey Michel, Helen Crocker, Janine McCretton and Franki Anderson. The shortlisting panel will include past Fool Time tutors and students.

About Richard Ward and Fool Time

Richard Ward (1945-1999) was the founder of Fool Time in Bristol on 1st April 1986, the first professional circus school in the UK and the first English language circus school in the world. It was active from 1986 to 1993 and was succeeded by Circomedia (established 1994).  The school attracted students from all over the world, making it possible to train as a circus or physical theatre artist without having to run away with the circus (unless you wanted to, that is!). 

Artistically, Fool Time combined the disciplines of theatre, dance, movement, mime and storytelling with human circus skills: acrobatics, trapeze, clowning, juggling, balancing and equilibristics. Educationally, it developed the first curriculum from a five day course up to a one year course laying the groundwork for today's formal higher education qualifications. Students paid fees (70%) which were subsidised by the school which fundraised for the other 30% needed to make the training as accessible, affordable and available as possible - a policy close to Richard's heart.

Fool Time was a trail-blazing venture at the forefront of the contemporary circus movement which emerged from the counter-culture movement of Britain in the 1980s.  Its legacy can be seen across all fields of artistic endeavour.  Many of today's leading circus practitioners began their journey in Bristol. Many have gone on to work in a wide range of artistic and educational settings taking the Fool Time vision all over the world.

Our target is still £2,000. This includes setting up the website (the application gateway) and a certificate and video for the showcased performers.

To make this happen we need to hit the target and we’re almost half way there!  Please give what you can.

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