Start-up Lab

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

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Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, 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 pillar of entrepreneurship, we are launching a new edition of our START-UP LABO in the fall of 2024, 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


Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, Foto: Jasper Léonard
Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, Foto: Jasper Léonard
Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, Foto: Jasper Léonard


Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, Foto: Jasper Léonard
ECDF Start-up Labo 2022-2023, Jasper Léonard

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 employed – for 8 weeks – part-time 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.

Within our START-UP LABO, we want to provide young creators with the necessary space to blossom into successful artists. We do so by focusing on cultural entrepreneurship and a sustainable, future-oriented and safe working environment. But also on connection, with already established artists who frequent our training room. And with young people active in our organization, who have also statred dreaming of a successful circus career. As a STARTER, you get a VIP spot, in our circushaven that is centered on inspiring yourself and others.


We will contact the selected STARTERS in the course of August. This is followed by a kick-off meeting in which we thoroughly go over the candidates’ needs and expectations. And we explore how you as a STARTER can contribute to the creative breeding ground we cultivate within our operation.

When: Sept. 2, 2024, time TBC

Module 1: Training & Coaching

Later in the fall we will start 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. You will also meet the artistic coach who will guide you in the 2nd module.

Duration: 3 weeks, target period: October.

Module 2: Artistic research

During the second module in spring 2025, the focus is 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 search. And we 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 before you can get started. Within this second module we also provide a separate space where you can shape your artistic process.

Duration: 3 weeks, target period: February.

Module 3: Creation

In this final module, the focus is on creation. It is up to you to decide which accents you wish to place here! Do you opt for a rather technical residency to focus on light and sound or do you feel the need to continue working on dramaturgy? Finishing off with a try-out is also one of the options.

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.


  • Kick-off: 1 meeting on September 2 – fine-tuning needs and expectations – at ECDF offices in SPRK (Antwerp).
  • 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 + in an external creation space
  • Module 3: 2 weeks in an external creation space, timing to be discussed – creation

Submit your proposal!

Would you like to join our START-UP LABO? Send us a clear proposal in which you explain your artistic or creative project. Include your needs and expectations and the themes you would like to address in the course of your internship – (1 A4). We make a selection based on individuality (personal input), innovation (enthusiasm to push known boundaries) and relevance to the contemporary circus sector.

You can email your proposal to

Ell Circo D'ell Fuego, START-UP LABO 2023-2024, Foto: Jasper Léonard

Would you like to join our START-UP LAB?

Great!!! Be sure to let us hear from you. Do you know a suitable candidate? Please forward this page today!
Deadline to submit a proposal is Aug. 1, 2024.

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

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