Circus Friends Association sad decline.
This long established club has now sadly lost its meaning. Some very unpalatable behaviour since the arrival of social media. Very unpalatable circus behaviour – requires rules and management – who is running it?
The above proud advertisement panel was placed in the 1940 Blackpool Tower circus programme.
Its excellent beginnings
Great show-business days even if the days were dark with war. Note the list of fine dignitaries such as Dame Laura Knight and Sir Cendric Hardwicke. The Circus Fans Association was inspired in 1934 by a powerful group to include Bertram Mills the famous circus proprietor. One might question why there would be need of such an association. Personally I had never given it much thought. My early days with circus found members generally helpful if a little eccentric but then, show-business is eccentric with circus being (at times) more so*. However, since the 1970s the association abandoned the original wise directives and became rather opinionated in various directions.
Not Good Enough!
What would be the need in these modern times for this association unless it had a distinct agreed purpose apart from the vast collection of memorabilia that is most worthy? Very good but, even this collection was totally transfered to the offices and management of Sheffield Univiersity without supplying the datails or names to the deposited photo some are totally wrong or listed without names, how can the University,, be expected to sort through all that? (A minority of artistes and proprietors do contribute sound copy at times but sadly some writers/CFA followers find ‘at times’ rather dull and will promote a constant eccentricity. Most artistes/proprietors are just normal hard working people – a bit dull perhaps!
It would appear in 1934, that circus was needful of a special nationwide group to help forward the cause. The then C.F.A. statement says; ‘members are true lovers and ardent admirers of the circus who are prepared to create a true understanding between Circus Artistes and others connected with the Circus and the General Public’. Note the word ‘true’. This suggested a need for the group and a purpose but a group surely under the guidance and respect of the then powerful Circus Proprietors and the employed artistes? I still do not understand the need for a national representative group in those days. Touring circus was most healthy and generally appreciated and artistes were also Variety artistes working top theatres. The situation now probably does require a supportive group but completely in tune with the needs. The huge number of Variety theatres have gone and touring circus currently is finding more hardship not only because of the animal issues. My complaints against the C.F.A. – apart from it attracting some rude persons is, they are out of touch with the real needs.
In those days artistes were represented by the Variety Artistes Federation (currently Equity who have, since 1968, taken the old V.A.F. over). The word ‘circus’ then was fully understood but now, it can mean anything! The C.F.A. are quite happy for it to mean anything and say so. Of course, from a work point of view circus artistes can and will accept engagements in all areas (as always) like Ice Shows, Variety shows, Cabarets, Galas. Areas where the word ‘circus’ does not always apply other than ‘circus artistes’.
The C.F.A. have since re-named themselves as ‘friends’ and one wonders why. The Sandow family have never found them friendly! Why they have departed from the original title bestowed by these elite dignitaries to a rather meaningless title of ‘friend’ when some members show poor policy to artistes (via nasty gossips!) and use gutter language around social media i.e., viewable to the general public. By leaving aside the words ‘true understanding’ our experiences show various C.F.A. members can have ‘cranky’ opinions – circus as a meaning has no meaning! Perhaps the better title to embrace the whole business might be ‘Circus Art Followers’ or C.A.F.
In 1934 the Proprietors Association included all concepts of circus but without much variation. The Proprietors Association represented and managed wild performing animals, even to films – it no longer does anywhere. Of course, extreme variations of ‘alternative circus’ is coming forward not always family friendly along with the C.F.A that is no longer family friendly!
The current C.F.A. is sadly rather a shadow then of the old created days. No digniteries are involved. Its committee members are not named, its membership numbers are unknown, its rules of membership are unknown. As stated, touring circus now is not so unified or greatly managed (as a whole) as it once was, it needs more dynamic promotion – nationally- (their dues are high enough) for the sake of its wonderful arts and artistes (please see our call for a strong Press Office – ignored!). The C.F.A. could do much more but should be totally re-organised under new management with published rules (!), one being of dismisal but, as it is currently, it may be past salvation. One can not engage intelligent conversation without suffering ‘trollism’ and poor taste. Some members have also engaged in sexism, easy around un-policed social media. Our proud family history in show-business is over 100 years, personally (as shown) in top clubs — cabaret – and circus, language can be colourful at times but never before an audience. They fail to realise or care that social media is public,
A good argument should always be a polite argument. Some unfortunate examples from members.
In 2010 I asked the then Secretary what exactly were the C.F.A. set of conduct rules for members. Why not publish them? They then closed the Internet discussion pages due to language abuse hence ‘this site is closed’. Perpetrators then moved to Facebook! Have been active for the past seven years.
Posts : 26
This is the only ‘polite’ reply from the C.F.A. by the then President Lewis. The rules if any – a secret. In any case the conduct of basically out of control certain menbers, as if they constantly speak for circus, has been apparling with language to match. Artistes United – for the sake of circus art and artistes provide a set of rules for the association to consider. One might hope they adopt them if not, we do not consider the association credible. To this date totally ignored by the Committee – whoever they are!
(Negative example – From member Mr Steve Jacks who promotes a Facebook page; who leans to the social media use of language within the page)
PLEASE NOTE THAT FROM TODAY I WILL NOT BE ALLOWING ANYMORE ADVERTS FOR ARTISTS ON THIS GROUP. I haven’t minded but now I find it a shame that a lot of people are joining the group JUST to advertise their act and when you look at the photos pages of the group all you can see is advert photos instead of photos of what should be seen. So sorry about that, any adverts will now be deleted (and if they continue the person blocked). ‘Circus Artists! Without the required ‘e’ will be blocked! Circus Friends? Mr Jack’s does not explain what should be seen. Below is a comment on his public Facebook page. Intellectually he may have a point but destroys circus credibility using language.
So these cardiff vegan animal rights people think they support animals yea? So that’s a really good idea isn’t it to rush into a circus ring with horses doing their routine shouting and waving banners and TERRIFYING the horses! You love animals? You don’t love animals you are a nasty bunch of evil fucking tossers that scare animals. Think about YOUR actions you idiots. I love animals you dorks and would never do anything like you have done today you are terrorists to animals and should be locked away for life.
What should matter then to circus performing art that is 95 per cent artistes?; It must be the best possible promotion (image) to the public. (The current C.F.A. do not even appreciate its own image!) The artistes do their bit! It must come from all the circus proprietors and their show marketing and the only representative association for artistes – Equity. The C.F.A. should be clear, do they just want to be a collector of memorabilia? . If so then opinions should be to a minimum. The C.F.A can be useful to circus art but in its current form, with so many rudderless – rude – persons, I think not. One rule should be to use the C.F.A. title if they are to comment on Social Media instead of hiding being false titles. Its leadership (basically unknown!) should get a grip.
A call to you the general public
Maybe you have memorabilia – your stage and/or circus performing artistes photographs of fond interest, you may send them to this website, you have the e-mail, for great promotion. We will give you total acknowledgement and thanks. Still under your control. None will be forwarded or sold off! Your privacy is totally guaranteed. If you do post an open comment your e-mail is totally hidden and secured.