World Circus and Stories Mapping Project

To visit the map and submit your own story, click here.

The Context

In March 2020, with the rapid spread of COVID-19, bringing the initially localized virus to pandemic proportions, most performing arts ceased their activities around the world. We are interested specifically at what impact this has had on the contemporary circus scene worldwide through an interactive open-source participatory mapping model. Circus practitioners, producers, and scholars are all welcome to identify significant sites and venues, tour itineraries, and recollections. Users will be able to write short narratives that are attached to locations.

Who is involved?

The project is run out of Concordia University with the support of The Montreal Working Group on Circus Research and The Geomedia Lab, where the OpenSource form-based map is digitally housed. Concordia Professors Louis Patrick Leroux (English and Études françaises) and Sébastien Caquard (Geography, Planning and Environment) are working together with their students Anna Vigeland and José Javier Alavez.

How does it work?

Members from the circus communities around the world are invited to add their stories to the map. Moderators from the creation team and the community will then vet submitted stories in French, English, and Spanish. We will later add Portuguese (Brazilian), Simplified Chinese and Russian as additional options once we have the support and the resources.

Each site-specific story will appear in one of three unique layers on the map:

  1. Your story (contemporary circus sites and stories)
  2. History (historical sites and stories)
  3. This pandemic story (Where were you and where did you go when COVID-19 stopped your show, rehearsals or other projects?)

To kick-start the project, Hackathons, will be held thanks to Concordia’s 4th Space, En Piste – The National Circus Arts Alliance, MICC-International Contemporary Circus Marketplace and Circus Talk over the first few months of the project. Hackathons are collaborative events where participants will be encouraged to enter stories for the map and join in the conversation at the same time. Later Hackathons will be organized thematically or geographically.

Check back soon to find out more about the dates of the upcoming Hackathons.

What is the purpose?

The objectives of the map and this project are:

  • To offer an accessible and moderated online space for the circus community to identify, tag, and share stories and informed observations of specific circus sites.
  • To create a world map of circus sites of significance to the circus and circus research communities.
  • To harness much oral and unwritten history through the online portal.
  • To identify sites of multiple significance.
  • To identify sites of interest, both historically and in contemporary practice
  • To map passages, trajectories of tours of important shows for historical reference.
  • To build a lively, ongoing resource for artists, teachers and circus studies researchers.



Concordia University
Montreal Working Group on Circus Research
Geomedia Lab
4th Space
En Piste – The National Circus Arts Alliance,
MICC – Marché International de Cirque Contemporain / International Market of Contemporary Circus
An initiative of TOHU/Montréal Complètement Cirque
Circus Talk!


Ethics compliance:

This research has been approved by Research Ethics at Concordia University.

You do not have to participate in this research. It is purely your decision. If you do participate, you can stop at any time. You can also ask that the information you provided not be used, and your choice will be respected and it will be deleted from the map upon your request. Please note that any information entered in the form that feeds the information on the map will be vetted by a moderator before it is posted.

If you have questions about the scientific or scholarly aspects of this research, please contact the researcher:

If you have concerns about ethical issues in this research, please contact the Manager, Research Ethics, Concordia University, 514.848.2424 ex. 7481 or