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Jaw-dropping acts from across the globe await carnival-lovers this May. Supplied

Enjoy all the fun of the fair at upcoming The Tini Tinou International Circus Festival.

The Tini Tinou International Circus Festival is returning to Battambang between May 25 and May 31 to thrill spectators with a carnival of daring acts and amazing performances.

Now in its 11th year, the theme of this year’s festival will be “East meets West,” with the aim of uniting actors and troupes from Asian countries with those from other regions in the world.

“We’re expecting artists from Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland and other European countries,” says Dara Huot, CEO of Phare, The Cambodian Circus in Siem Reap, which helps organise the festival that is hosted by Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit arts school in Battambang which sets out to transform lives and foster social change through artistic education.

Tini Tinou will see a week-long festivity in Battambang. Supplied

According to Sigrid Baldinger, development and communication manager for Phare Ponleu Selpak, the festival is significant to not only Battambang and Cambodia, but also to the entire Southeast Asian region.

“Cambodia is leading the region in the contemporary circus scene but we also aim to  become a hub for circus arts in Southeast Asia and promote the youth social circus initiative around Asia,” she explains.

To this end, the festival will be a week-long celebration involving artistic collaboration workshops, panel discussions, culminating in three days of shows and performances. The renowned street parade be held on the evening of Friday May 29, featuring its main attraction, the Giant Puppet Parade, plus music, dance and – naturally – exciting circus acts.

Many circus arts managers from the region have also registered their interest in attending because this year the festival will also host meetings and workshops run by Circus Asia Network. The organisation, created in 2017 by 12 founding organisations based in seven countries – Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan aims to cultivate an environment for contemporary circus companies and organisations in Asia.

Nicknamed the “gab fest” it is a crucial aspect of this year’s activities and organisers say it is, “An opportunity to interact, share and collaborate with artists from a diverse region to create a stronger identity of contemporary Asian circus. Bringing a diverse group of international artists together provides a great opportunity to share ideas and best practices on a range of topics related to circus”.

Roundtable discussions will be focused on artists and circus professionals, while forums with panellists will be open to the public and special interest groups. The latter will focus on circus in education and circus as a tool to engage and connect with communities and cities. Cambodian circus artists will also have an opportunity to collaborate with foreign artists through various workshops and residencies.

According to the organisers, “The results that emerge when different personalities, disciplines, skills, styles and cultures intersect in a unique environment will be showcased through the public during the festival weekend and/or during the week at pop-up street shows”.

A female contortionist shows off her extreme physical flexibility. Supplied

Entertainment-wise, Phare Ponleu Selpak campus will be the festival’s main venue and the site of the 280-seat Phare Big Top. It will also boast an outdoor stage and an artists’ residency area.

However, before the fun can commence, Sigrid Baldinger continues to encourage new sponsors to help fund the festival. Past sponsors have included Cambodia Airports, Total, Smart and the now-defunct ANZ Royal.

“The atmosphere of the festival conveys ideas of youth, energy, talent, passion and dedication,” she says. “Sponsors have the opportunity to directly reach audiences through branding of the event. Sponsor logos on banners, invitations, posters, program, flyers and t shirts will give direct visibility. Top-tier sponsors will receive mention on radio broadcasts, media coverage, live tuk tuk advertising throughout the town and the chance to set up booths at the venue.

“With total online followers of over 203,000 people and a direct reach and engagement of over 30,000 people a week, Phare Ponleu Selpak can ensure broad exposure for our sponsors. In addition, almost 20,000 recipients worldwide receive our bi-monthly newsletter directly to their inboxes.

“For Tini Tinou, Phare Ponleu Selpak is partnering with Phare, The Cambodian Circus – the organisation’s social enterprise adding an additional reach on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Line, WeChat, Weibo of over 75,000 people with weekly posts reaching a direct audience of over 31,000 people. With the combined marketing and media outreach, Tini Tinou Festival will double the online marketing impact for our sponsors. We are expecting to directly engage with 11,000 artists and participants during the festival week.”

Sponsorships and grants are the lifeblood of Tini Tinou. The festival made its debut to great fanfare in 2004 but was scrapped in 2010 due to a lack of funds.  Happily, it was an instant hit with its revival in 2014, becoming the biggest show of its kind in the region.

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