Vermont Press Releases

Tour and review of New England Center for Circus Arts new building

News Release — SO Vermont Arts and Living
June 19, 2017

Lynn Barrett
cell 323-627-4625
[email protected]

Sneak Preview and Guided Tour New England Center for Circus Arts New Building

WHAT: Guided Tour NECCA — Classes begin this week in NECCA’s new building — Grand Opening planned for early September

WHO: New England Center for Circus Arts, Chamber of Commerce, other interested parties

WHEN: Tuesday, June 20

WHERE: 10 Town Crier Drive, off Putney Road

TIME: 11:00 AM

Background: NECCA begins classes in its new building this week—this, after 10 years at the Cotton Mill, adding studios and moving from floor to floor, then adding the NEYT studio and then moving to the Austine Gym. NECCA now has the newest in the country and the only custom designed trapezium building in New England to serve current and new students. The unique architectural design reflects the energy and flexible nature of circus arts.

New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) is an organization with a remarkable history and a limitless future. This year it will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a number of milestones — it is a leader in the world of circus arts, a leader in the Brattleboro community, and a safe, accepting place where the joy and possibility of circus are accessible to anyone and everyone.

It’s big news when Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces it will close after 146 years. But the New England Center for Circus Arts not only continues to train students; they’re in the process of expanding.

To accommodate its growth and expand programming, NECCA will move into its own custom-designed trapezium building in Brattleboro— the newest custom-designed circus arts trapezium in the country. The trapezium will allow year-round, indoor flying trapeze training, as well as fabric/silk, juggling, contortion, unicycle, partner acrobatics, German wheel, teeterboard and more. Grand opening is planned for early September.

In 2006, Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, identical twins won the first annual BDCC Business Plan Competition and founded NECCA in 2007. The twins, both have impressive backgrounds as professional circus arts performers and trainers. They’ve also won (November, 2016) the Governor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.

A Board of Directors with the active involvement of the founders governs NECCA. NECCA received status as a 501(c) 3 charitable organization in 2007.

Today NECCA is a leading center for circus arts training in the U.S., serving more than 2,000 individuals annually in a broad spectrum of classes and programs. It’s bursting at the seams in professional training and student classes and special programs.

NECCA’s ProTrack graduates are employed in circuses and theaters, cabarets and concert tours, vaudeville street shows and operas, in venues of every size and scope throughout the industry and the world.

Students who’ve worked at local businesses in Brattleboro like Brown & Roberts, or Fireworks or DUO Restaurants, or brewed coffee at Mocha Joe’s are now on tour in arenas with Cirque du Soleil, on stages with 7 Fingers, or in a tent with Circus Aetearoa.

The appeal of circus arts ranges from the athletic and adventurous to the curious and creative. NECCA trains those who want to be professionals as well as students enrolled in community classes like trapeze, acrobatics, clown and German wheel and conducts workshop weekends and vacation camps. NECCA also offers recreational training classes for ages 3-80, advanced youth/pre-professional training and performances. Students can enjoy non-competitive, physical activity to help build healthy minds, hearts and bodies through self-confidence, peer acceptance, self-esteem, poise, physical fitness, teamwork.

“Circus in the Neighborhood” includes programs for at risk and disadvantaged youth, scholarships for kids in foster care or with difficult home lives, camp free tickets for area youth, as well as programs for people with physical and developmental disabilities.

Teachers who come here say, ‘This is a cool town’ and they want to live here,” says Elsie. NECCA sees the upcoming move to this new facility not just for what it will do for the center, but what it will do for the town – to bring the arts and more diversity to Putney Road.

Economic Impact

The Brattleboro region’s arts community benefits from the addition of this internationally renowned circus arts school—a dynamic, emerging sub-sector of the performing arts world.

NECCA brings young professionals from outside the region to live and work.

NECCA attracts audiences to the region for performances.

Each year NECCA’s new students move to the Brattleboro to study and work.

More than 12 workshops each year, ranging from 3 to 21 days, bring hundreds of out-of-town participants and families to the Brattleboro area.

• NECCA is using a unique building process called Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). It is distinguished by a contractual arrangement between the owner, builder and architect that aligns the business interests of all parties. It is being used for the first time in Vermont under the guidance of Building Green of Brattleboro, Vermont.

• The trapezium will be an 8,600 SF building incorporating a gymnasium for circus arts training & performances and administrative office space.

• The first floor will have a 5,800 SF trapezium with a ceiling height of 40 feet.

• The trapezium will include a tramp wall and a trampoline.

• Adjacent to the trapezium will be a 1,400 SF space for lobby, conference room and bathrooms.”

• A 2nd floor mezzanine will house offices and viewing of class training in the trapezium.

• The trapezium is a steel building with concrete floors.


2001 Founders Elsie & Serenity complete 4-yr Cirque du Soleil tour

2003 Start Nimble Arts company: performances, teaching services and custom aerial equipment at the Cotton Mill

2004 – Leases its 1st studio at the Cotton Mill
– Youth programs begin with one staff member

2006 – Nimble Arts wins 1st annual BDCC Business Plan Competition
– Hosts 1st American Youth Circus Organization’s Educators’ (AYCO) Conference

2007 – Adds studio space on the 3rd floor of the Cotton Mill
– Collaborates on New England Youth Theater’s new facility and adds Nimble Arts studio at that location
– Offers 1st Winter Sports programs with local schools
– Professional Track training program begins
– NECCA founded: 501(c)(3) status approved Dec 21

2008 – Elsie & Serenity (E&S) win Award at the 11th China Wuqiau
International Circus Festival
– Start Circus in the Neighborhood outreach program

2009 – Add studios & offices at the Cotton Mill
– Professional Performance Program adds Intensive Program
– E & S win bronze at Int’l Festival of Circus in Spain

2010 – NECCA hosts the 3rd AYCO Educators’ Conference
– Adds 2nd floor studio at the Cotton Mill

2011 – First Circus Spectacular at Latchis Theater sells out
– Windham Regional Career Center High School program

2012 – Circus Spectacular expands to 2 performances
– Professional Track Performance graduation shows move to Landmark College’s Greenhoe Theater

2013 Expands to “South” studio on the 3rd floor of the Cotton Mill

2014- – Purchases 3.14 acres off Putney Rd, Brattleboro
– Moves flying trapeze program to the new property
– Expands to larger studio and office at the Cotton Mill
– WRCC High School program expands to two-semesters
– Moves to a larger gymnasium at Austine campus

Capital Campaign Goal – $2.5 million
2014 Launches $2.5M Capital Campaign

2015 Exceeded interim campaign goal of $1M by Dec. 31, 2015

2016 Convenes a team of architect, builder & owner utilizing a unique design & construction process: Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

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