Save the Circus - Worcester Standard
Article

If circuses are going to continue to tour and to thrill future generations, we've got to make sure that regulation and red tape doesn't kill them.

ARTICLE FOR THE WORCESTER STANDARD
MAY 2008
On Sunday I was doing one of my favourite things - going to the circus. Circus is wonderful, breathtaking entertainment that often gives children their first taste of how exciting the performing arts can be. Yes, there is more to life than television and computer games!

With up to three shows a day, it is one of the most demanding of all the performing arts - literally risking injury or death every time you go into the ring.

And did you know that circus is a British invention?

We're lucky in Worcestershire - you can see some of the country's finest travelling circuses. Some, like Billy Smart's over the Bank Holiday weekend, come to Worcester. Zippos is regularly in Birmingham and it wasn't long ago that I saw the Chinese State Circus in Redditch.

In fact, it was difficult to avoid Billy Smart's - the posters were everywhere, and if you went, you had a real treat.

Personally, I have no objection to the use of animals like horses and dogs in circuses, but Smart's is one of the majority of all-human circuses - and boy how those humans give their all to entertain and thrill their audiences.

But even circus can't escape from politics. Apart from the debate over the use of animals in the ring, tightened immigration rules are making it more difficult for international artistes to come for short periods to the UK. The laws on licensing, brought in to curb alcohol-related crime and disorder, are making many travelling circuses lives almost impossible.

That's why I'm hosting an event for the circus industry in the House of Commons in a couple of weeks time. If circuses are going to continue to tour and to thrill future generations, we've got to make sure that regulation and red tape doesn't kill them.


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