By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,496)
Peter Nielsen, President of the Circus Conservatory, announced this afternoon that it has selected the 28-acre Thompson Point to be the home of its first US-based college. The news came this afternoon at a press conference in front of the historic, former railroad office building that the Conservatory plans to utilize to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Circus Studies.
Nielsen traced the history of circuses saying they began in the 18th century. Since that time they have evolved significantly. No animals are involved and they have become more sophisticated in the intervening years. There has been a rebirth of interest in them in this country. While there are circus study programs in Canada and overseas, there is no such accredited college program in the U.S. He has been working with the State for accredition for the new College.
By September of 2015 that will change. Plans call for the enrollment of students two years from now in a historic building formerly used by the railroad. The plan calls for an eventual enrollment of 120 students, although that is expected to take four years to accomplish. Tuition and student costs will be in line with in-state college fees. The western section of the grand, red-brick building will need to be taken down and the roof removed to allow for expansion needed to accomodate training for acrobatic and other physical training programs. The roof will be raised from its current 30 ft. up to 40 – 45 ft. to accomplish the needed expansion.
Several speakers including Chris Thompson, a partner in the development, praised Portland’s creative environment which allowed such an unique project to go forward in this location.
“There are a lot of people who will want this degree because it will lead them to opportunities in the performing arts,” said Mayor Michael Brennan.
The Forefront at Thompson Point is a major redevelopment of the 28 acre site next to the Portland Transportation Center, including an event center seating 3,500 for Red Claws basketball games, a parking garage, hotel, restaurant and offices.