Finland - International Document

“They’re smiling from ear to ear”: Wellbeing Effects from Social Circus

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Ed. Kekalainen K, Kakko S-C

Year of Publication:

University of Tampere

Publication Type:


The report shows that social circus has tangible social, psychological and physical benefits. The research demonstrates that circus significantly enriched the daily lives of most of the the range of participants in the target groups of all ages, providing them with variety and recreation. It is suitable for people with physical and developmental disabilities, mental health rehabilitants and families using child welfare services.

The main objective of the Effective Circus project (2011–2014) was to provide circus organisations with the tools for demonstrating the wellbeing effects of their activity thus increasing the funding opportunities and employment in the field. Another important objective was to increase dialogue between the municipalities and the circuses and to productize and mainstream existing wellbeing services in working seminars organised for the municipalities and circus actors.

Circus teaching was organised in six different participating circuses which gave a larger number of circus instructors the opportunity to work with special groups. The target groups for the circus teaching included:
• families in need of support
• special education classes and flexible basic education classes
• families with special needs children
• children and young people in the suburbs
• children and young people within the outreach youth work project
• immigrant classes
• multicultural groups
• private childminders
• elderly inhabitants in retirement homes and institutions
• children, young people and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
• clients of mother and child homes and shelters
• substance abuse and mental health rehabilitants
• work communities.

This report was informed via data collected through surveys and interviews with the circus participants and the teachers, instructors, nurses and specialists who worked with them. A total of 164 people completed the survey and approximately 100 people were interviewed.

The Effective Circus project was administered by the Centre for Practise as Research in Theatre at the University of Tampere (School of Communication, Media and Theatre), and was funded by the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) and the participating circuses and municipalities.

Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Outcome Evaluation

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Ed. Kekalainen K, Kakko S-C, Effective Circus project (2014). “They’re smiling from ear to ear”: Wellbeing Effects from Social Circus. Finland: Tampere: Centre for Practise as Research in Theatre School of Communication, Media and Theatre, University of Tampere.