Mandate and mission of En Piste

En Piste, the National Circus Arts Alliance, gathers organizations and professionals from the Canadian circus arts sector and its mission is:

To advance the circus arts and raise their profile in the public eye with presenters, governmental organizations, businesses and communities.

To develop, consolidate and foster cohesion within the circus arts by encouraging creative initiatives, increasing the level of representation and the promotion of circus events, creating a framework and opportunities for professionals to discuss their trade.

To rally together organizations and individuals operating in the circus arts, or involved in their development, through trade events and conferences, by creating information and communication tools, and by rolling out a true specialized network representing the circus arts from coast to coast.

En Piste achieves its mission through five major mandates:

  • Concertation,
  • Representation,
  • Appreciation of the circus arts,
  • Professional development,
  • Community life.

The global strategy describes the major objectives determined through strategic planning. It appears as a largely shared vision, which becomes a leitmotiv throughout the interventions of En Piste. The global strategy is to work towards establishing favourable conditions for the development of the circus arts in Canada.

Activities of en piste

En Piste networks with numerous partners for the purpose of supporting performers, new projects, training organizations, show producers and presenters. We target all parties involved in the circus arts, including presenters, businesses linked to the circus arts, the media and the general public. We also work to raise the profile and popularity of our local Canadian circus arts.


Its database has become a major networking tool for the community in its entirety. Via its website, En Piste puts the following at the disposal of its members:

  • Repertories and information on various aid and professional services programs;
  • Continuing education for artists and professionals;
  • Exchange forums;
  • News from the sector;
  • A monthly, bilingual newsletter;
  • Service offers and requests;
  • Professional repertories (presenters, suppliers, training centres…);
  • Promotion of events and shows;
  • Rebates for training and creation places as well as for venues.

Project development for the sector

En Piste has given itself various mandates in studying, monitoring and developing diagnosis, economic studies, needs for continuing education, various census, concerted development plan. En Piste is always looking for data on its sector and participates actively in different key projects.


En Piste promotes the circus arts as a discipline in its own right, ensures its reputation and keeps an eye out for activities of the other disciplines by participating actively in a dozen artistic, cultural, economic and social consultation groups. Moreover, because En Piste has become the showcase of the diversity of its sector as well as the reference in circus arts, it is often sought for hosting foreign delegations.


Every year, En Piste provides artists and other professionals of the sector with an important Development Program, which proposes between 450 et 750 hours of training, individually or in groups.


Since 8 years ago, En Piste has organized its Annual Forum as a place that fosters professional exchange about all aspects of artistic practices.

Presentation, professional meetings and audience development

In order to provide a better visibility and to multiply the opportunities of exchange for circus businesses, En Piste tries to integrate with as much events that are fostered by organizations the network presenters as possible: Rideau, CINARS, CAPACOA, etc.

Consulting services

More and more, circus artists rely on En Piste to receive support in order to kick-start a project, a business or for help in the framework of funding requests or access to presentation. On top of the regular services provided through continuing education, every year the En Piste team hosts and supports numerous artists and companies in their development.


En Piste stays close to emerging artists and emerging artistic forms and seeks to stimulate artistic creation in circus arts by welcoming artists who want to be receive advice or information, or who want to be oriented towards other professional resources.


Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres (M.A.L.)

Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en culture (CQRHC)

Comité de formation de l'Île de Montréal (CFC)

Circostrada Network – European Platform (member)

Canadian Conference of the Arts

Conseil des ressources humaines du secteur culturel (CRHSC)

Culture Montréal

Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM)

Board of rade of Metropolitan Montreal

CQICTS (Communications And Information Technology Training)





Since 1994, En Piste has been at the heart of its sector’s collective progress, whether by the recognition of the circus by the various councils for the arts it has pursued, the creation of the Tohu and its festival, or the understanding of the circus by the official bodies as well as their growing interest in the circus notoriety.

In 1994, Jan Rok Achard, then director of the National Circus School, rallied the circus arts community for a discussion on the state of their milieu. Thus was born La Trac.

In 1996, La Trac grew into a trade association representing twelve companies. Its mission at the time was to help the circus arts gain wider recognition and to implement initiatives that would generate more business opportunities for members. The result was the circus show Parasol.

In the following years, the rising number of specific requirements from the circus community at large led the association to expand its orientation and activities to include all parties related to the circus arts, such as performers, creators, trainers, troupes, learning institutions, presenters, etc. This prompted the association to restructure and to serve the circus arts as a whole. Its activities and vision were collectively defined by the individuals involved in the milieu. This gave rise, in 2001, to En Piste’s adoption of new statutes and general regulations.

Also in the same year, which France had declared the year of the circus, the circus arts gained official recognition from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, making 2001 a memorable year in the circus annals of Quebec.

But it is 2004 that marked the turning point for En Piste. The association moved its headquarters to the building also occupied by the National Circus School, where it named a new management team, established new membership rates, developed new initiatives more in lockstep with the needs of members, began offering enhanced member privileges, and providing new information and services through their website. The winds of change were definitely steering the circus arts in a new direction!

Below are a few milestones in the history of the network:

1994 - Birth of The Trac.

1996 - Creation of En Piste.

1997 - Incorporation of En Piste.

1999 - First Circus Arts General Assembly, initiated by En Piste.

- En Piste, Cirque du Soleil and the National Circus School jointly propose the idea of a circus arts district, which becomes, in 2004, TOHU: la Cité des arts du cirque

2001 - En Piste scores its first major victory when the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec acknowledges the circus arts as an official art form.

2003 - Emploi-Québec and the Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en culture (QCRHC) acknowledge En Piste. The network is allowed to provide continuing professional education to its members.

- As a founding member, En Piste moves into its new offices at the heart of the Circus Arts District.

2004 - Creation of the TOHU.

2007 - Second Circus Arts General Assembly.

2008 - The Conseil des arts de Montréal acknowledges the circus arts.

- Publication of an essay: L'état des lieux -  Les arts du cirque au Québec et au Canada - éclairage sur un paradoxe. (Circus Arts in Quebec and Canada: Inventory. Lighting a Paradox)

- En Piste participates actively as a member in the COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE committee, which is formed of leaders of the discipline who work in major development projects.

2009 - The Canada Council for the Arts acknowledges circus arts.

- Circus Producers are eligible to tax credits from the Sodec.

- Publication of a repertory of the circus spaces in Montreal: Espaces Cirque à Montréal (57 pages).

- En Piste participates in the creation of the MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE (MCC) Festival.

2010 - First edition of the MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE (MCC) Festival.

- First pan-Canadian meeting of the members of En Piste during its National Forum.

2011 - En Piste publishes a Quebec sectorial diagnosis for the circus arts.

- En Piste unveils its new logo and its new website.

- First international meeting of the working committee "Planète cirque", which brings together 6 Contemporary Circus organizations from Belgium, Argentina, Scandinavia, Australia and Spain.

2012 - En Piste celebrates 15 years of existence.

- Winner in its discipline, En Piste is finalist for the Grand Prize of the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

- Implementation of a collective insurance program for all member companies of En Piste.

- En Piste publishes the organizational diagnosis of the Network.

- En Piste publishes a study on the needs for continuing education.

- En Piste publishes the sectorial and organizational strategic plan.

For more details see page Achievements

Photo credit: Marcus Urban / 7 doigts de la main