Chilean Circus Tradition Named as Intangible Cultural Heritage - StageLync
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Chilean Circus Tradition Named as Intangible Cultural Heritage

In Europe, the traditional circuses of Finland (2018), The Netherlands (2013) and Hungary (2016) have already been taken into the National Inventory of Living Heritage under the UNESCO Convention. Now a South American country, Chile, joins the ranks of this esteemed group. They hope that more and more countries will work toward this distinction, and achieve widespread recognition for the circus arts as part of UNESCO’s “world heritage.” 

In a decision met with loud applause from the circus community, Chilean traditional circus has been entered into UNESCO’s Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the unanimous vote of Chile’s Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage. The vote occurred at the first yearly session of the Ministry, held online and in-person at the historical Pereira Palace, located in downtown Santiago. Through their decision, the Ministry highlights the special place of circus in Chilean culture, designating it for protection under UNESCO’s conventions.

On the heels of the announcement, representatives of Chile’s circus community gathered inside the Palace auditorium to celebrate. Coming to greet them all was the Secretary of State, who remarked, “The circus is in the heart of all Chileans, and of all Chilean women. It brings together children, young people, and families. Circus creates a community.” The Ministry president and Minister of Cultures, Consuelo Valdés, weighed in: “This is a well-deserved and timely recognition of the contribution made by the circus. As a centuries-old tradition, it summons and attends to our communities in all of their different stages and generations.”

This newfound heritage status highlights the strength and longevity of Chilean circus tradition. Throughout its more than 200-year history, the circus has developed its own distinctive identity, practices, and aesthetics. Its national and itinerant character is present in all the communes of the country; as well, its strong components of family and community lend the tradition both a strong cohesiveness and a sense of belonging. In fact, Chile’s different circus organizations all actively participated in the research that was presented at the Council session.

“To finally have this recognition is to touch the sky with your hands,” said Maria Elena Andrich, the cultural manager of Chile’s national union for circus artists, after the vote at Pereira Palace. “In circus, we are always proud to say that we are self-sufficient, self-sustaining; but we cannot recognize ourselves. This status is something we lacked before, and it comes thanks to the Ministry’s vote of approval,” she said.

In Chile, the National Inventory aims to safeguard circus traditions, as well as other elements of their culture made part of their Intangible Cultural Heritage. Its purpose is to organize resources and to purpose relevant tools and strategies that can address problems, risks, and threats to the preservation of circus culture. An allotted income will allow them to create these safeguarding plans, and to apply for Chilean circus to be considered a part of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Source: AdPrensa Chile

Main image: Courtesy of CIMAC , International Congress of Juggling and Circus Arts

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