Connecting the Fellowship: Phyllis Martin

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Phyllis Martin FRSA organises events using the circus to inspire young people.  She is looking for crowdfunding support to help train a team of trainers so they can pass on their skills to the community:  

1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?

For 15 years I have seen circus inspire and amaze. I love circus because it is a joyful, healthy activity that makes the world a better place as an artform, a sport, a hobby or a career. I run the Commonwealth Youth Circus project, work with Bright Night International, founded circus charity Pocket Circus and am part of the Glasgow Theatre & Arts Collective. My work means I make circus happen in the form of touring shows, education projects and community outreach. The circus community is one built on discipline, respect and huge amounts of fun.  

I also work on fundraising, logistics and planning for any type of project that inspires me, which has so far included MIDI interfaces for music composition, computer networking systems, a yoga studio, micro-renewables, eco-housing, 3D printing and building apprenticeships for hard-to-engage youth.

2) Why did you join the Fellowship? 

I joined through my Winston Churchill Fellowship, because being an innovator can be lonely. I wanted to gain energy from being part of a larger mission, tap into interesting research in new areas and widen my horizons.

3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to society?

I make a lot of things happen - from arts to technology projects, research, buildings. There is no shortage of creative ideas and innovations that change our world but I can catalyse those ideas into reality and I think that is an important contribution. I am an interpreter, a midwife and a guide for ideas that increase our ability to communicate, to make sustainable decisions and to build communities. I figure out how to achieve what is needed and where to get the resources from.

4) What would you change in society given the chance?

I would like society to have a long term perspective, so that we could get excited about investment in the future instead of short term personal gain, disposable products and accelerating consumption cycles.

5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?

Circus Space became the National Centre for Circus Arts last week, which is a big step forward for circus in the UK! 

6) What did you learn last week?

I was listening to interviews from my Churchill Fellowship and remembering that success also takes time. Elizabeth Streb, a inspiring daredevil New York choreographer, shared her experience of building a company over thirty years. Tenacity is key. I also learned how to programme a state onto a sub-master on a lighting desk and the B7 chord on the guitar.

7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.

I am fascinated by the progress of Bruce Newlands and the MAKLAB project, which has been going from strength to strength. His open source approach to 3D printing and grasp of the potential to turn manufacturing into a grassroots local activity is hugely exciting.

8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows

Anyone who could use some grant writing support for ideas around circus, youth development, community organising or 3D printing is welcome to get in touch.

I need political and business allies to push circus development for young people, connections with international partners for youth exchanges and any contacts for Montreal / Quebec / New Zealand as I'm heading off on another research trip soon. This week I also need backers to get my Kickstarter over the line to fund teacher training for my amazing Commonwealth Games youth circus project before it's all over! Visit our crowdfunding page and please help if you can! 

You can get in contact with Phyllis:

By email

On Twitter

Via LinkedIn

Find out more about Phyllis's project helping inspire young people by learning circus skills on the RSA crowdfunding page.  

As a Fellow you can nominate friends and colleagues who would benefit from joining the RSA's unique network and support our aims. If you are not a Fellow, find out how to become one.

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