Under Finch’s artistic leadership, Circus Oz has performed to more than 1.7 million people in nearly 150 national and international locations, including tours from Arnhem Land to New York and from the Kimberley to Madrid.
Shows by the irreverent Circus Oz reflect the diversity of modern Australia. During his time with the company, Finch curated a diverse full-time ensemble of circus artists maintaining an equal number of men and women; and was also heavily involved in the significant engagement and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers through the Circus Oz BLAKflip program.
“This has been an incredible 17 years, immersed in a close-knit, collaborative and highly supportive circus culture,” says Finch. “I have been honoured to work with an evolving, expanding, diverse and passionate group of amazing people over my time at Circus Oz.”
“In a very real way the company has become, and will remain, my extended family. In my mid 20s I joined the company as Artistic Director because I was drawn to the values of Circus Oz and 17 years later those values still match.”
Last year Circus Oz moved into its new purpose-built home in Collingwood with the assistance of the Victorian Government, representing the culmination of a shared vision and a decade long effort to build a vibrant hub of artistic activity and a secure base for a sustainable future.
Finch reflects that his departure is a natural progression following the successful launch and first anniversary of the new building; the arrival of the Circus Oz Melba Spiegeltent and all the other Circus Oz programs and social justice initiatives, including Strong Women, BLAKflip and the partnership with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
“Having contributed significantly to this collective vision and achievement, I’m very happy to be leaving Circus Oz at this time,” said Finch. “Now that we have settled in our permanent home, everything is in place so the company can focus on nurturing and developing shit-hot contemporary circus; and changing the world (or at least Australia’s immigration policy) – one big, happy, diverse audience at a time.”
“I’m proud of the way Circus Oz, as a company owned by the Company Membership, has maintained authenticity, humanity and irreverence in an increasingly slick and commodified world. It’s an extremely exciting time for the future of Circus Oz and I’m really keen to witness the company’s next developments and opportunities.”
Wendy McCarthy, Circus Oz Board Chair, congratulates Finch on his vast achievements during his time as Circus Oz Artistic Director: “Mike has lived and breathed the values and creativity of Circus Oz for over 17 years. It has been a compelling and exciting contribution to the growth of the company.”
“Coming home to Collingwood into this fabulous building has been part of the dream for Mike and the company members. I thank him for his commitment, contribution and vision. And I’m looking forward to watching the next chapter for Mike Finch.”
The return Melbourne Circus Oz Big Top season of But Wait…There’s More (opening on 17 June at Birrarung Marr) will be the farewell Circus Oz season for Finch as Circus Oz Artistic Director.
Following the return Melbourne season of But Wait…There’s More under the guidance of Circus Oz founder and circus elder, Tim Coldwell, and the Circus Oz Touring Show Director, Debra Batton, the Circus Oz ensemble will be back on the road with a national tour culminating in a four-week Sydney Circus Oz Big Top season in January 2016.
Finch will finish up as Circus Oz Artistic Director on 30 June 2015. Recruitment for the next Artistic Director will commence later this year. For more information, visit: www.circusoz.com for details.
Image: Mike Finch – photo by Rob Blackburn