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Circus App on World's First Arts Accelerator Programme


Not-for-profit touring circus, Circus Starr are delighted to announce their part in a pioneering pilot twelve week digital arts and culture accelerator supported by Arts Council England and Nesta designed to encourage arts organisations to be more digitally entrepreneurial.   

Circus Starr’s iOS app for autistic children, Show & Tell, is one of nine previously funded Digital R & D Fund for the Arts projects to be selected for the Digital Arts and Culture Accelerator, which is working with arts organisations to build scale and attract outside investment.

Rachel Oliver, Circus Starr’s Community Engagement Manager, explains:

“We have high hopes for our app, Show and Tell, which has already helped to increase attendance and enjoyment of our shows for many children with autism.

For those children who struggle to cope with unfamiliar people and places the inter-active visual story gives a sneak preview of what to expect at our Big Top shows without giving away all of the magic.

We're now looking to gain further investment to create a "white label" product that can be licensed and re-purposed by other venues and attractions to create more equal access for the 2.8 million people in the UK whose lives are touched by autism.”

The intensive twelve week programme of workshops, one-to-one mentoring, expert clinics and networking is being delivered by the Accelerator Network who have been working with high tech growth and digital media startups since 2011. Their Accelerator Academy programme supported over 120 businesses to raise over £30 million in investment. 

The programme will cover identifying the market, branding and market research, raising finance to scale and business modelling. The curriculum for the Digital Arts and Culture Accelerator has been adapted to reflect the fact that the participants are not necessarily company founders and the digital product that comes out of the initiative may or may not be part of the core business of the arts organisations involved.   

The pilot will culminate in a pitching day in September to an invited audience of commercial, social and angel investors.

More about the Digital Arts and Culture Accelerator

The Digital R & D Fund for the Arts supported collaborations between arts organisations, technology companies and research partners. Working in partnership, Arts Council England (www.artscouncil.org.uk) and Nesta (www.nesta.org.uk) are providing a further stage of support for nine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts projects in the form of an accelerator. It is designed specifically to help projects become investment ready, attract new forms of finance beyond traditional routes and help projects explore the potential of their original idea.  


By Rachel Oliver on 20th May, 2016

What People Are Saying

“ Our son is autistic. His behaviour can be very challenging in public and there are very few places we can take him for entertainment. Coming to see Circus Starr enables my son to experience not only new wonderful performances, but sit amongst an audience in a Theatre or a Big Top, which teaches him social skills.”

“Social stories and visual supports can be really valuable tools for many people with autism, helping them navigate situations like days out that many of us might take for granted”

Heather Wildsmith, Cultural Development Manager, National Autistic Society

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