Arts Council campaign

CAPS, working with AFAR and NARA (National Animal Rights Association) have been campaigning to persuade the Arts Council of Ireland (appointed by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism) to stop funding animal circuses.

In 2006 the Arts Council gave €95,000 to three circuses using animals – Duffy’s Circus, Fossett’s Circus and Circus Gerbola. In early 2007 €160,000 was given and in October that year the Arts Council announced it was giving €186,500 under its new Annual Programming Grants.

In 2010, €60,000 was given to Duffy’s Circus and €10,700 to Circus Gerbola. Fossett’s Circus also received funding but by this time had stopped using animals in the performances.

In early 2007 the Arts Council said that it “is giving funding to circus this year because circus has now been enshrined in the Arts Act, 2003 as an artform in its very own right.” It also states that the circuses had to “submit their policies on animal welfare as part of the Council’s revenue funding process”. These policies were generally a word-for-word reproduction of a document produced by a circus trade body in 2001 which was criticised by animal protection groups at the time as doing little to progress animal welfare and simply reiterated the current position of animal use.

The Arts Council noted: “The views from the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain and the European Circus Association were taken in advance of the circus policy being created.” Both of these organisations strongly defend the use of animals in circuses and the ACP is currently opposing government legislation to ban the use of some wild animals in circuses in England and Wales.

Also of concern to Freedom for Animals is that the person employed by the Arts Council to act as their ‘artform specialist’ on circuses, Verena Cornwall, has close links to organisations defending the use of animals in circuses.

Cornwall is an Honorary Board member of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain, the trade body for circuses. She is also the Chair of the Circus Arts Forum, a UK organisation that is also opposing the government ban on wild animal acts.

All three circuses have continued to receive funding (Gerbola €48,000; Duffy’s €75,000; Fossett’s €63,500 in both 2008 and 2009), although we are pleased to say that Fossett’s is now an entirely all-human show.

Freedom for Animals has called on the Arts Council to only fund circuses that do not use any animals in its performances.

What You Can Do:

Please contact the Arts Council, asking the not to fund animal circuses:
Mary Cloake, Director, The Arts Council, 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Copy your e-mail to: and

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