When Diana Daly and Anahareo Dölle of the St. John’s International CircusFest were seeking support for their very first festival in 2018, they didn’t have to look very far. In addition to featuring local artists, CircusFest also welcomes some of the biggest circus performers from the country and beyond. Of course, these performers need a place to stay when they’re in town, so when Daly and Dölle approached the team at the historic Murray Premises Hotel, the perfect partnership blossomed.
It didn’t take long for the duo’s excitement, energy and enthusiasm to rub off on him, says Steve Denty, General Manager of the Murray Premises, so he was eager to step up and help out. They struck up an in-kind partnership, whereby the Murray Premises provided guest rooms for out-of-town performers, as well as meeting and boardroom space, in exchange for recognition as a sponsor. It’s a partnership that’s served both parties well, and still exists today.
“I thought it was a really perfect fit, that it was this locally owned, smaller independent circus company, and you know, we’re sort of a smaller, independently owned hotel in the city. It made a lot of sense. So we were really pumped to do that and sort of be their hosts,” Denty says.
“I’ll never forget attending when they launched it. They did it at the Arts & Culture Centre, in the foyer. They had aerial performers and ground performers, and that was magical. And I’m like, ‘Wow, the whole thing is going to be great.’”
Allie Bourden, Sales Manager at the Murray Premises Hotel, says they believe in what CircusFest is trying to accomplish and share a similar vision in making the city, and province, a destination for these type of events – something which benefits everyone.
“That’s really important for us as a destination, not just as a hotel, being ambassadors to ensure that globally, people see Newfoundland and Labrador and St. John’s as a place to host these events…we’re a National Historic Site, it’s all about that mix between hospitality and history and culture.”
The partnership between CircusFest and the Murray Premises will likely continue for the long haul, Denty says, and even through the upheaval that the pandemic has brought, they’ve found a way to continue their support.
“Their enthusiasm for what it is that they’re trying to do – we’re just really happy to be a part of it. And the last couple years in particular, I don’t think we’re exclusive in this fact, it’s been very tough to come up with dollar amounts to be sponsoring events, but you really still want to be part of things like this in the community. So their willingness to be flexible on what we can provide them, and our willingness to offer value to them in kind, in a tough year, I think, has really helped that as well,” he says.
While last year’s CircusFest took the form of an interactive, digital gathering, this year’s event, which takes place from September 23-26, is back live in full force, featuring workshops and industry panels (which will also be broadcast online) and of course, awe-inspiring performances that will wow people of all ages. A couple major highlights include The Edge of the World Cabaret, directed and hosted by Patrick Léonard of the 7Fingers with live music by Bill Brennan and the Jazz East Big Band, taking place on September 25 at the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre; and the show Six°, hosted by celebrated Québecois company Flip Fabrique, which takes place on September 26 at the same location.
“It is so important to have continued support from the hotel industry in this endeavour,” says Diana Daly, who is also the Managing Producer of Wonderbolt Productions, which hosts the St. John’s International CircusFest.
“We are the only contemporary circus festival that happens east of Montréal, filled with world class artists such as the 7Fingers and Flip Fabrique. These circus superstars and industry leaders are so willing and grateful to have a reason to join us here at the edge of the world that a nice place to stay adds to the value of their experience. We also fully believe that partnerships with local entrepreneurs are essential to economic health and growth for both the business community and the arts community.”
“We love showcasing St. John’s and we love sharing contemporary circus, so our partnership with the Murray Premises Hotel is a perfect fit and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Click here to learn more about the St. John’s International CircusFest.