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The network

We are an international network for professional circus education with 85 members. Since 1998, our aim is to support the development and evolution of training, teaching and creation in the field of circus arts.

  • © Boris Conte - Esacto'Lido
  • © Tessa Veldhorst - Codarts

Missions & objectives

We invest ourselves every day to meet the missions and objectives of the network:

  • enrich and develop circus arts education,
  • represent our member schools at both European and international level,
  • strengthen the links between the different training programmes and organisations,
  • promote employability and synergies with the professional sector,
  • facilitate international educational exchanges and European mobility,
  • raise our members’ awareness of the EU’s political agenda,
  • advocate for arts education at European level,
  • raise our sector’s profile.

Annual events

We have 2 main events every year:

1 - In April: FEDEC Spring Talks

FEDEC Spring Talks is an event which is vital to the cohesion and life of the network. It provides all of our members with the opportunity to share and discuss ideas and issues and is hosted by a different member school each year. Spring Talks brings our community together and opens dialogue to identify future priorities.

> Read more about FEDEC Spring Talks

2 - In October: FEDEC Encounters at Circa

Open to all (network members, students, organisations, professionals, experts, etc.), the FEDEC Encounters at the Circa Festival (Auch, France) provide a rich programme of circus performances to discover and a venue for our statutory and thematic meetings, while also bringing our famous CIRCLE project to life.

> Read more about FEDEC Encounters at Circa


FEDEC is an international non-profit association (AISBL) governed by Belgian law and whose headquarters is in Brussels. The statutes are FEDEC’s birth certificate: they define the rules under which the association operates.

Download FEDEC statutes

Our members

Our network currently has 85 members in 31 countries, divided into 2 categories: 

  • 59 FULL MEMBERS: secondary, vocational, preparatory and higher education schools and institutions that teach circus arts – and train trainers in some cases - and aim to prepare future professional artists.
  • 23 PARTNER MEMBERS: national associations, unions, circus hubs or festivals related to circus arts training and education.

All of our members can vote at the General Assembly and are eligible for Managing Board positions. A mandatory condition for their membership is accepting FEDEC’s ethical values by approving our Code of Conduct.

> See the list of our members

Download the list of the Higher Education degrees in circus Arts in 2023

Key figures


The first vocational circus arts schools were created in the 1970s thanks to pioneering circus, theatre and dance artists, athletes and teachers. They were committed to working towards the development and recognition of the circus as a major art, professionalizing the sector and creating new artistic forms in a break from the traditional circus.

Back then, there was often only one school in a region, but it shared the same issues as its counterparts in other countries. There was therefore a need for them to meet and unite so that together they could discuss and envision the future of professional circus education.

FEDEC gradually became established on the basis of this observation. Its beginnings date back to 1988 when the EFECOT (European Federation for the Education of the Children of Occupational Travellers) was founded. An initial body of people took advantage of the creation and support of this network to reflect on ways to represent vocational schools. It included Jean Vinet (future director of studies at the CNAC), Vincent Wauters (founder of the Brussels Circus School) and Teo Greenstreet (co-founder of NCCA).

... and FEDEC was born

FEDEC was officially created in 1998 at the instigation of 3 higher education institutions:

  1. Circus Space in London (GBR) - run by Charlie Holland
  2. CNAC in Châlons-en-Champagne (FRA) - run by Bernard Turin
  3. ESAC in Brussels (BEL) - run by Philippe Haenen.

These 3 founding members invited other schools to join them. Carampa in Madrid (ESP) and Die Etage in Berlin (DEU) were the first in a long line.

The dates to remember

→ In 1999, FEDEC celebrated ELLIPSE, its very first European project. This project, which aimed to increase educational meetings in the sector, was a resounding success.

→ In 2005, the network created the EPE (European Pedagogical Exchanges, 2005-2007), the first circus teacher exchange programme in Europe.

→ 2007 marked the birth of CIRCLE, the flagship project offering students the opportunity to perform under professional conditions during Circa Festival in Auch.

→ In 2008, FEDEC was chosen for the first time to be a partner network of the European Commission (DG Education and Culture) and received the annual Jean Monnet operating grant. This enabled it to launch two new projects: MIROIR and the creation of a comprehensive directory of circus arts training centres.

→ In 2009, FEDEC set up an office for member services and coordination.

→ In 2010, themed Focus Groups were created within the network to delve deeper into the issues concerning schools and students, pursue partnerships with the professional sector and encourage research.

→ That same year, FEDEC launched MAILLONS, a 4-part continuing training programme (2010-2019) for educational and artistic directors. In 2014, the INTENTS project (2014-2017) called for the definition and recognition of the profession of circus arts teacher. It was followed by REFLECT (2017-2019), in 2017, which focused on teachers and their continuing training needs.

→ In 2020, the COSMIC project (2020-2022) familiarized schools with digital technology and how to apply it to their teaching. In 2022, the technical teams were put in the spotlight thanks to the RIGGERS project (2022-2024), which aims to create an international community and improve the quality of safety measures in circus schools.

→ In 2023, in response to the movement of the Balance Ton Cirque collective, FEDEC launched the SPEAK OUT project (2023-2024). This aims to prevent all forms of discrimination and sexist and gender-based violence in the sector.

FEDEC presidents

Today FEDEC is chaired by Stéphane Simonin who succeeds Donald Lehn (2014-2017), Tim Roberts (2008-2014), Philippe Haenen (2002-2008), Bernard Turin (2000-2002) and Jan Rok Achard (1998-1999).


A huge thank you to our partners:

We are also members of:

Support us!

Do you share our vision of circus education and want to get involved in the network?

Whether you are an expert, a representative of an organisation or a festival, a sponsor or a volunteer-to-be, there are several ways you can support us:

  • by becoming a member,
  • by becoming a partner of one of our European projects,
  • by helping to set up activities,
  • by providing your expertise in a field of circus arts,
  • by hosting training and events within your organisation,
  • by advocating for circus arts education.

> Got an idea you’d like to discuss? Contact us!