BRATTLEBORO—New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), one of the most comprehensive circus arts schools in the United States, is reopening to the public on June 29 after three months of closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local enrollment in the school’s summer session is open for registration with aerial and acrobatic classes for beginner through advanced students.
Students will rejoin small group activities with classes that are in-person while physically distanced.
NECCA typically offers more than 50 recreational classes each week, alongside programs that reach into the community and local schools, as well as a renowned, three-year professional training program and destination workshops that draw students from all over the world.
During the shutdown, NECCA leadership worked with the American Youth Circus Organization and American Circus Educators Association, which represent hundreds of circus schools across the United States and Canada.
Executive Director Jamie Hodgson participated on a task force to develop a comprehensive risk assessment strategy for the circus arts teaching industry, while Director of Programming Elsie Smith and Producing Director Serenity Smith Forchion worked with coaches to build new online curriculum and research methods for in-person-but-distanced teaching for when reopening might be a possibility.
In an effort to support the community, NECCA offered mini-presentations by distancing performers to local retirement homes, and students could be found juggling in parks and backyards once the weather turned warm.
In early June, following state guidelines, the school began a carefully phased process designed to move toward bringing students back into the space.Staff-only training opened on June 15, membership self-training on June 22, and public classes on June 29.
NECCA is assessing each step to slowly move towards reopening.
“Risk mitigation is a big part of what we do, though it usually focuses on mats and spotting instead of disinfectants and mask protocols,” Forchion said.