May 21, 2018
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Circus Conservatory partners with Mercy and MECA

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PORTLAND, Maine —  The Circus Conservatory of America, forming in Portland as the nation’s first circus arts college, has announced two strategic partnerships in healthcare and higher education that position the school to achieve its mission of providing the highest caliber education to circus artists in the United States.

The Conservatory will partner with Mercy Hospital, a member of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, to provide sports medicine services and training to Conservatory students. In addition, Maine College of Art will provide humanities, science, and visual art courses to circus students.

Mercy will staff a full-time physical therapist who will be present in the Conservatory training space when students are training or taking classes. Together, Mercy and the Conservatory are committed to educating students in injury prevention and wellness management.

“We have a vision for healthcare and physical therapy that is pro-active in keeping our clients healthy and fit,” says Bob Nutter, Chief Operating Officer at Mercy, in a press release. “We see the goals of the Conservatory and Mercy in strategic alignment. We will work together to create a culture of fitness at the Conservatory and throughout Maine that educates the population to take personal responsibility for their own preventive medicine. The athletes at the Circus Conservatory will serve as ideal role models for this vision throughout our community.”

Adjacent to the Conservatory’s 48,000-square-foot training complex on the waterfront at Thompson’s Point, a 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art sports medicine facility is planned. The buildings are being designed to seamlessly allow Conservatory students to move between the space where they train and a health services area staffed by Mercy’s sports medicine professionals.

The Conservatory will also partner with Maine College of Art in the delivery of its liberal arts curriculum. Founded in 1882, MECA has been awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree since 1975 and now offers 11 undergraduate majors, three minors, and two graduate programs: a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Conservatory students will be able to register for classes in literature, anthropology, history, business, natural science, other electives, and of course, art and design courses. MECA is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

“MECA is committed to educating students to become lifelong creative professionals, and we are delighted the Conservatory shares this goal,” said Ian Anderson, Vice President of Academic Affairs at MECA, in the press release. “We are always seeking ways to experiment and innovate across disciplinary boundaries. A deep collaboration between visual artists, designers and circus students is an energizing prospect that has rich possibilities for both colleges and Portland’s creative community. We look forward to further collaboration between our students, faculties, and institutions.”

Peter Nielsen, President of the Circus Conservatory, is enthusiastic about the partnerships with Mercy and MECA and the opportunities they create for Conservatory students. “We’ve done our research on the critical components of a circus arts education and identified early on that health maintenance and the development of artistic vision will be key to our students’ success. Mercy and MECA, by lending their expertise and resources to our students, will help position the Conservatory as one of the most progressive circus arts institutions in the world,” he said in a press release.

The Circus Conservatory of America announced plans last August to locate on Thompson’s Point in Portland as part of a $110 million development project adjacent to the Portland Transportation Hub.  The Portland Planning Board recently approved the Master Plan for the development, which features the Conservatory at the center of the Point.

The Circus Conservatory anticipates construction of their facilities will begin later this year with initial programming to start in September 2015 and the BFA program to begin the following year. For more information, visit