Start-up Lab

A paid internship program for unconventional, innovative & recently graduated circus professionals.

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ECDF Start-up Labo 2022-2023, Foto: Jasper Léonard

Ell Circo D’ell Fuego (ECDF) is a haven for circus entrepreneurs. We introduce children, teens and adults to circus, focusing on discovery, development and entrepreneurship.

Within the entrepreneurship pillar, we are launching a new edition of our START-UP LABO, a paid internship that supports young, recently graduated, circus professionals as they leap – or somersault – toward a professional career.

Why this START-UP LAB?

Circus performers who have recently graduated usually find themselves having to answer many questions. What do I do now? Do I apply for artist status? Or do I set up a non-profit organization? Maybe it’s better to start out self-employed? Or as an employee? How will I work out and fund my first projects administratively? Where can I continue my training? What if I still need some extra time to shape my project? And what about insurance?

Ell Circo D’ell Fuego’s START-UP LAB offers young creators time and space to search for answers. Afterwards, they are ready to throw themselves into the professional field.

With this LAB we want to strengthen recently graduated circus artists who want to establish themselves in Belgium (again). We do this with both business and artistic tools they can use to start and develop a healthy and focused professional career. They also step into an artistic study with a coach from Ell Circo D’ell Fuego’s network. Who will guide them in developing a final product.

On our START-UP LAB program


What to expect from our START-UP LAB

We offer a recently graduated circus artist or company a paid internship program consisting of three modules. As you go through these modules, you will be – for the duration of 8 weeks – part-time employed by Ell Circo D’ell Fuego* and given full-time space to create.

* 19h/week with a salary according to the prevailing scales in PC 304 Performing Arts, pay category B.

Module 1: Training & Coaching

We will start in the fall of 2023 with mix of topics (business, communication, physical,…) necessary for a healthy career. Based on your needs, ECDF staff will provide customized coaching. Meanwhile, ECDF’s training room is completely at your disposal.

Duration: 3 weeks, target period: October.

Module 2: Artistic research

During the second module in spring 2023, the focus will be on artistic research. From the wide network of Ell Circo D’ell Fuego, you will choose an artistic coach who will offer you the necessary guidance during this stage. And we will reflect on how everything is going in the business, artistic and communicative fields. Together we look at where you stand and what still needs to be done in order for you to get started.

Duration: 3 weeks, target period: February.

Module 3: Creation

In this final module, the focus is on creation.

Duration: 2 weeks, target period: to be discussed.

Practical information

For whom?

For (Belgian) circus artists or companies who want to establish themselves (again) in Belgium as ‘creators’ and have recently graduated in a Higher Circus Arts program at a college, university, academy or conservatory. We limit ourselves to this target group because the administrative support we offer is grafted onto local regulations.


  • Module 1: 3 weeks in the fall (preferably October) – training and coaching around business, communication and physical themes – in ECDF’s training room in SPRK
  • Module 2: 3 weeks in spring (preferably February) – research with artistic coach + follow-up on business themes – in ECDF’s training room in SPRK
  • Module 3: 2 weeks, time and location to be discussed – creation


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Thanks in part to National Lottery players, newly graduated circus professionals can complete a paid internship program that is committed to artistic, physical and business mentoring.

With the START-UP LAB, the National Lottery and Ell Circo D’ell Fuego are working together to professionalize the Belgian circus landscape and its further positioning, both nationally and internationally.

Nationale Loterij Subsidie Ell Circo D'ell Fuego Start-up Labo