Teaching two quirky arts in New England

Vermont Public Radio (vpr.org)  ran a charming story. ‘’Despite Ringling Bros. Shutdown, The Circus Arts Remain Alive And Well In Vermont “ the other day about the New England Center for Circus Arts, in Brattleboro, Vt. The folks there see circuses as still having a bright future, even with the imminent demise of the most famous one, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The Brattleboro school concentrates on trapeze and other gymnastics. They don’t do stuff with animals. Growing opposition from animal-rights people helped force Ringling out of business; much of the attraction had been animal acts with such “charismatic’’ animals as elephants.

But there’s a modest continuing interest in seeing circus acts with only people (and maybe a dog or two) – trapeze artists, tumblers, clowns and so on. A handful of circuses have followed this model. {A famous one, The Big Apple Circus, has  folded, but the much bigger, Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil continues.)

Let’s hope that this ancient art  (and athletic) craft survives in some way to bring joy to people in communities large and, especially, very small.


That reminded me of another small organization training people to succeed in a niche art:  The Center for Cartoon Studies, in White River Junction, Vt.  It trains people to do “sequential art’’ – mostly cartoons, comics and graphic novels. (As you see when visiting most bookstores, graphic novels have been booming.)

This quirky institution offers a master of fine arts degree, one and two-year certificate programs, as well as summer programs. It’s the only such college-level training program of its kind in the United States."   Given the probable craziness of social and political events and celebrities now and for at leastthe next few years, the students and graduates of this school will have more material than ever. It’s a new golden age.