Crossing Wires

Below you’ll find an overview of our new project Crossing Wires (the story, the why) – and the real and lasting impacts of the program and performance (the outcomes and impact).

Facts and figures, outcomes and indicators, are important in designing projects with impact, but here at CircusWA we also believe that stories and experiences are what will really stick in people’s minds and warm their hearts. We hope this information helps build the connection between our ideas and action, and the change Crossing Wires will make and why it matters. And we’d love to talk to you in person if you’re interested in knowing more and supporting this project.

About Crossing Wires

Crossing Wires is an 18-month social-circus engagement program using funambulism (tightwire) and yarning to promote physical and mental well-being while exploring the ongoing politicisation of Noongar identity in metro Aboriginal communities.

Crossing Wires is in part inspired by the story of 1920’s Aboriginal tightrope artist Con Colleano. Con moved to America, became the world’s best wire artist and always hid his Aboriginal identity. His story will be used to reflect on identity while inspiring participants to engage with this unique circus skill.

Local Aboriginal communities are still grappling to emerge from a history that rendered them voiceless, stripped of a sense of belonging and denied full access to the dominant culture without assimilating. The implications are still unfolding. Projects such as Crossing Wires are imperative in creating pathways to healing.

In partnership with WA’s first nations theatre company Yirra Yaakin, over a year and a half, circus trainers will spend time in six urban communities delivering workshops for kids, youth and adults in funambulism. Each community will build a tightwire and balance bars, learn to walk the wire, and exchange stories with Elders and Leaders in their community. Lead artists will work with these communities in a way that promotes health and well-being and social connection.

Six outer-metro communities have been chosen, and the timeframes for workshops has been developed, around the Noongar Six Seasons.

This 18-month workshop program focusses on the research and creative development to deliver an outside spectacle performance of scale for Perth Festival 2025.

What is funambulism?

‘Funambulism’ is the art of tightwire walking while using a balancing pole.

You can’t spell funambulism without FUN, and this art form, combined with embedding First Nations stories, will powerfully engage, delight, educate and inspire young people in our communities.

Funambulism as a circus art is accessible and enjoyable.

Walking on a wire conveys a sense of ease and simplicity, yet it requires courage, focus, and self-belief. Crossing a tightwire is symbolic of overcoming challenges, taking control and helps participants discover their inner-strength and resilience.

Funambulism is also a powerful wellbeing tool that promotes mental and physical health, requiring both body and brain to be fully engaged, provokes a sense of wellbeing which can be proven by neuroscience.

IMPACT & Outcomes

Crossing Wires, and CircusWA’s Aboriginal Youth Training Program, use the power of culturally based programs to engage, connect and strengthen communities.

Circus is a powerful agent for social change by promoting resilience, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and the ability to work well in a team. The Training Program creates pathways for Aboriginal Youth of all abilities to participate in the arts in a way that is inclusive and enhances participants’ sense of well-being.

The following short and long-term outcomes are within this project’s reach to influence.

Aboriginal youth and WA youth will …

  • Have increased confidence and empowerment, believing that they can achieve extraordinary things

  • Have improved physical and mental health and wellbeing.

  • Have increased participation in community and cultural activities

  • Have increased sense of place and belonging

  • Develop increased capacity to shape and express cultural identity.

  • Have improved social, personal and life skills.


 Our community will benefit from …

  • Increased investment in First Nations arts and cultural expression.

  • Increased opportunities to see and engage with next generation Aboriginal artists and artists of all abilities.

  • Increased empathy, understanding and tolerance of difference.

  • Greater social inclusion and cohesion.


CircusWA and the arts and culture sector will benefit from …

  • A larger, diverse and more connected circus arts and physical theatre community

  • More employment, economic opportunities and meaningful work

  • Increased attention and investment on building capacity, diversity, and inclusion

Evaluation may include:

  • Ongoing participatory observation
  • Qualitative feedback from practitioners and participants involved in the project
  • Completed workshop and performance evaluation surveys
  • By community invitation, evaluation 2-3 months after delivery of project.