As I ride the metro from the Place Capitole in Toulouse to La Grainerie at the Balma Garmont, out the metro window I see acres and acres of community garden plots. I’m reminded of what a dear colleague of mine is always saying about arts presenting, “we must provide vegetables and not fast food.” And it hits me, La Grainerie is doing just that, growing vegetables with circus arts.
The name La Grainerie is rooted in the metaphor. A grainerie is a place to hold grains and seeds. La Grainerie tends their grains and seeds by being a resource for those that create, produce, and administer the circus—and that includes Potluck Arts. They offer residencies and studio space for artists to explore new works, they have training programs that support artistic excellence, they have cross-border and international partnerships to strengthen the circus industry and they offer an ambitious circus arts season around the city of Toulouse that emulates a traditional theater season, but with circus arts.
La Grainerie has been tending to me, and now Potluck Arts, over the last three years, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see the venue and participate in this unique space created for circus arts. I was introduced to La Grainerie when I participated in Autopistes, a European and North American project that focused on building an international presenters network for contemporary circus. Autopiste helped me to see the world-wide impact of circus arts, to be come aware of all the seeds planted over the past 30 years and to notice where roots have taken hold. From Catalonia to Sweden, from France to Hungary, from Montreal to, yes, Arkansas – new exchanges are being sown and La Grainerie is doing their work to tend to all of us. It’s a social-link factory offering a solidarity approach and I, as an American, have been given a place in the garden with only a few other seedlings at the moment. If we can tend it well, just watch an American landscape of contemporary circus flourish.