Free circus entertains audiences from all walks of life in Venezuela

World Today

For the past decade, the International Circus Festival has entertained thousands of underprivileged children in Caracas, Venezuela, bringing laughter to a city that has been racked with violence and inflation. CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas.

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Free circus entertains audiences from all walks of life in Venezuela

For the past decade, the International Circus Festival has entertained thousands of underprivileged children in Caracas, Venezuela, bringing laughter to a city that has been racked with violence and inflation. CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas.

Organizer Jorge Heli said he dreamed of bringing the circus to Venezuela’s impoverished communities to boost tourism. While circuses in bigger cities can cost around $50 for a family of four, his circus costs nothing.

“This is a job where no one gets paid. It’s totally voluntary and free. The bands, the people that come from elsewhere, national and international artists are not paid,” Heli said.

With funding from Venezuela’s Ministry of Culture, Jorge and his partners have recruited hundreds of people, many of whom are street artists who have never had the opportunity to perform in state-of-the-art facilities.

“I began doing this circus in the year 2000. Back then we were seen as mediocre beggars who stand up in traffic lights to throw three little things in the air and ask money for doing it. When I set up here, many of the guys, who had not come to La Sabana saw the structures, they didn’t believe it. This is paradise. Never before had I set up a structure in a place like this,” said organizer Richard Marin, also known as “The Birdman”.

The circus has long been considered one of the world’s most accessible art forms, but with Venezuela’s strict price and currency controls, it can be difficult to stage them.

“It’s our baby and we don’t want it to die out and we have been on the verge of letting it happen, but each time we come and see La Sabana beach we are recharged to do it all over again,” Heli added.