New Horizons Leadership Programme (NHLP) is a mentorship and leadership project dedicated to supporting emerging leaders in the Baltic-Nordic Region, and contributing to the overall development of the contemporary circus sector in these areas. The inaugural programme took place in 2020-2021 and a report of the project has been published by Cirkus Syd for Baltic Nordic Circus Network (BNCN).
NHLP was initiated by organisations representing contemporary circus in eight countries within the region (Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Russia), with the goal of engaging young project managers and producers to support the growing sector. The programme envisioned young confident persons who are able to develop into leaders employable by the field and ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges as producers, project managers, tour managers, board members and also able to hold organisational development processes.
NHLP centred on matching 14 young fellows with leading organisations in the region, for mentorship experiences. In addition, the project established sharing platforms (website, digital meetings and activities), where fellows and other participants were able to connect and also produced a handbook for self-evaluating leadership.
The ethos of the project is to foster agency and ownership of one’s own process of growth, which means the fellows were encouraged to take ownership of their own learning, while underlining the value of solidarity, peer support, and professional community.
Learning and empowerment were thus considered as reciprocal conduits for leadership development and growth.
A mix of quantitative and qualitative evaluation showed important outcomes and impacts of the programme: expanded professional networks; new collaborative projects; innovative ideas and forward-looking critical approaches to circus and leadership practices. Overall, the project yielded a cohort of young leaders that found the experience to be positive and conducive of personal and professional growth. The project was funded by Nordic Council of Ministers via Nordic Culture Fund and Nordic Culture Point of the Nordic Culture Point and supported by the City of Lund and Stenkrossen Cultural Centre.