Common Ground headed to the Byron Bay foreshore this week to experience Byron’s biggest summer buzz: Circus Arts’ Park’n’Fly pop-up trapeze in the park.
The team at Circus Arts (located in the Industrial Estate) have been bringing joy and teaching new circus skills to the Byron community and visitors alike for over eleven years.
This summer, management team Belinda Hultgren, Kate Priddle, and Dave Summers sought to spread their wings a bit further, and with the announcement of Byron Shire Council’s Placemaking Seed Fund, they saw the perfect opportunity and went for it.
It was here ‘Park’n’Fly was born: a reimagining of the trapeze experience, taking it outdoors, and setting up in an ideal, beautiful beachfront location, only steps east of the Byron Surf Lifesaving Club.
Park’n’Fly has activated an otherwise unused space, creating a unique and exciting experience for locals and visitors, and available for anyone over the age of five.
Passionate, circus professionals with a wealth of experience in this space, Circus Arts have taken their outdoor flying trapeze rigs to the Sydney Festival, and major events in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Tasmania, and Hong Kong to name just a few.
‘These are opportunities we’ve been offering to people all over the world, and not in our community,’ says Marketing and Events Manager, Kate Priddle. ‘When the opportunity came up to bring it to Byron, we jumped at it’.
‘We’ve always loved outdoor trapezing,’ says business owner Belinda Hultgren ‘It’s such a lovely experience flying outside, in the breeze, looking out to the ocean’.
‘It’s a huge undertaking to get a project like this up,’ explains Kate, who applied for funding at the beginning of last year, and with Belinda and Dave went through both funding and development approvals through council, in addition to the operational construct of the project, whilst still running their daily business. ‘Having a three month residency makes it worthwhile from that perspective’.
Members of the community have praised the Park’n’Fly team for their incredible efforts, and ground-breaking initiative for the local community, including Mayor Simon Richardson, who in a recent press release has said of the project “… we thank our four creative teams for stepping up and giving back to our communities … Circus Arts will showcase the very best of our town and we are very thankful for their time, energy and dedication,” he said.
“Through activation, the space is more than an area to simply walk through. “It becomes a ‘place’ where you are happy to stop. To linger longer and connect with people and the surrounds”.
The on-ground team has reported overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, and many inspiring stories from people overcoming their fear of heights, to a young woman returning several times to train to help overcome a disability, to participants going on to join Circus Art’s continued membership program.
‘Everyone who has come along has absolutely loved it been really excited. We’ve had great response form everyone about the shows and the classes,’ Belinda tells us. ‘We’re just that little bit further down from Main Beach so it’s been a bit of a challenge to raise people’s awareness of where we are. So when people walk passed they’re surprised to see it, they stop and come in’.
Anecdotally, a visible increase to pedestrian traffic along the walk-way were Park’n’Fly is located has been observed, which has raised the profile of the space, ultimately meeting council’s goals of the Place making project of increasing community activation of under-utilised spaces. ‘We wanted to create a linkage from east to west, so we definitely feel that we’ve achieved that,’ Kate reports.
Vendors of Byron Beachside markets reported record sales this month, which they attributed to the presence of Park’n’Fly – further extending the economic benefits the project has generated for the greater community.
In addition to classes, Park’n’Fly offer evening shows at 6:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights by some of the circus’ students, offering impressive and incredible free entertainment for all. ‘We sometimes invite people who have done the class that day to come and join the show,’ adds Belinda.
If you’re seeking a fun family afternoon or something different to do with friends this summer, get down and get involved with Park’n’Fly. It creates amazing memories, connects you with community, gives you new skills, and it might even help cure your fear of heights, or even inspire you to join the circus!
Park’n’Fly will be in Denning Park until Sunday 12th February – Don’t miss out!