The Cirkus on Equity and Inclusion
Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc., founded by Keith Nelson and Stephanie Monseu in 1995, prides itself on being an integral part of America’s outstanding folk traditions of circus, sideshow, and vaudeville. Bindlestiff’s activities fall into three main areas. First, we produce original shows, festivals, and public events. Over the decades, Bindlestiff has presented nearly 600 of the world’s top artists in the circus and variety fields. Shows in our home regions of NYC and the Hudson Valley, as well as national touring in the United States, have engaged audiences in the hundreds of thousands, with performances in theaters, Spiegeltents, big tops, cruise ships, fairs and festivals, including 2017’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, celebrating the cultural heritage of the American circus on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The second area of Bindlestiff’s work is support of emerging and professional variety artists. The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show is the premiere circus “open mic” night of New York City, presenting acts by over 100 artists every year. Bindlestiff’s yearly First of May Award and Residency offers emerging NYC-based artists financial support and mentorship from Bindlestiff. Twice a year, Bindlestiff’s Cavalcade of Youth, produced in collaboration with Playful Productions, pairs young artists from diverse backgrounds interested in learning the craft and skills of circus and variety with professional mentors in the field, presenting public shows in New York City.
And third, Bindlestiff provides high-quality circus arts education and enrichment opportunities. Free Out-of-School-Time and Elder programs serve people in the Hudson Valley and New York City by using circus arts training as a medium for social justice, community building, and youth development. Circus skill workshops are also offered with touring productions. Bindlestiff yearly develops and expand its educational programs with new partnerships, greater outreach, and continued professional development for instructors.