Description of initiative
‘LifeLine: Achieving the Impossible’ was a large-scale participatory project focused on the art of funambulism - wirewalking using a balancing pole – as a powerful tool for improving mental health.
People of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities from across Europe learned the dynamic art of funambulism as a way to improve physical and mental wellbeing. The project culminated in a spectacular highwire event over the River Corrib and Claddagh Basin in Galway City (IE) on 16th July 2022 - a cast of 130 community participants and professional highwire artists came together to perform a stunning display of hope, strength and resilience over one of Ireland’s most iconic waterways.
Funambulism is both a spectacular circus art and a surprisingly accessible participatory activity for people of all ages and abilities. It is also a powerful mindfulness tool that promotes mental wellbeing; walking on a wire conveys a sense of ease and simplicity, yet it requires focus, self-belief and courage. Crossing a tightwire is symbolic of overcoming challenges, facing fears, and taking control of your own body and mind. We use funambulism as a tool to teach techniques for managing fear and self-doubt, and help participants discover their inner-strength and resilience.
The site of the highwire spectacle was chosen due to its significance in the lives of the Galwegian community. To Galwegians, the River Corrib is iconic in the personality of the city, but also represents great loss having been a site of suicide. LifeLine came from the desire to reinfuse life, hope and courage into a landscape carrying great sadness and beauty, drawing on the transformative power of circus arts to deliver wellbeing impact and provoke discourse on mental health across the island of Ireland.
The LifeLine Spectacle featured performances by professional highwire artists Oliver Zimmermann, Andrea Loreni and Ellis Grover, a 42-person European Youth Ensemble, the premiere of the Creative Europe funded show 'BassAlto,' and highwire walks by community participants from across Ireland and Europe.
The foundations for LifeLine were created during a previous project, ‘Wired Crossed,’ produced by Galway Community Circus in partnership with the European Centre of Funambulism and École de Cirque de Bruxelles as part of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme. Between 2016 – 2020, they led a major capacity-building programme for funambulism participation in Europe, working with 10 European Youth and Social Circus schools across 10 different countries. ‘Wires Crossed’ led to creation of the world’s first methodology for funambulism participation and 2 accompanying training-for-trainers programmes in applying this methodology with community participants. Wires Crossed was funded by Erasmus+, Creative Europe, and the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.
Themes: Culture and...
Sources of funding
Results, benefits, impact and lessons learnt
• Established a new artform (funambulism) in Ireland for participation, performance and artistic development
• Produced our most ambitious public-facing event and Europe’s largest funambulism spectacle, raising the profile of the European Youth and Social Circus Sector on an international level
• Delivered positive wellbeing impacts for people of all ages and backgrounds through funambulism participation, opened the artform to non-professionals, and created the foundations for future development
• Raised awareness of funambulism and circus participation as powerful tools for youth, social and community development that use proven, evidence-based methodologies
• Significantly built capacity of both Galway Community Circus and the European Youth and Social Circus Sector through upskilling in circus pedagogy and participation, technical production of funambulism, and creation of large-scale, outdoor spectacle performance
• Encouraged discourse around mental health in a socially responsible way, using LifeLine to raise awareness and encourage open conversation while offering tools proven to support wellbeing through active arts participation
They will build on the achievements of LifeLine to develop the artform of funambulism for both participation and performance across Europe long-term.