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Circus Center Names a Real Clown, Steve Smith, as Its New Creative Director

The longtime Ringling Bros. performer will take give counsel on Circus Center’s programming and productions.

SAN FRANCISCO: Circus Center, San Francisco’s circus and training and performing arts center, has chosen Steve Smith as its new creative director. Smith, previously a clown with the Ringling Bros., will bring more than four decades of show business experience as a director, performer, teacher and creative consultant to his new post.


Smith will assume his new position on April 1 (and no, as far as we know it’s not an April Fool’s joke).

“Along with my years of experience in the circus arts, I offer my sense of passion, play, energy and enthusiasm to this new position,” Smith said in a statement. “I believe that, together, we will raise the standard of excellence to the highest levels of artistry and professionalism in our training and performances, and I eagerly look forward to the challenges and adventures that lie ahead. I have great respect for its legacy, and a strong sense of purpose for the limitless potential of its future.”

Smith has worked with names such as Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he served as the goodwill ambassador, and at Ringling Bros. was the dean of the Ringling Clown College for 10 years. He is also a five-time Emmy winner for work in children’s television, and was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1993.

At Circus Center, Smith will work with executive director Barry Kendall to give creative counsel on the organization’s operations, which will include selecting artistic projects and overseeing productions.

“Steve brings both tremendous depth of experience in the circus and an impressive diversity of show business credits,” Kendall said in a statement. “His reputation for nurturing creativity and generous collaboration make him a perfect fit for our future. He will be a terrific asset to this community, creating more and better opportunities for our students, faculty, professional performers, and alumni to shine.”

Originally the training arm of San Francisco’s legendary Pickle Family Circus, Circus Center is now an internationally recognized circus training and performing arts center. Its international troops have performed in featured roles with elite circuses worldwide, including the Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, Moscow Circus, Cirque du Soleil, Big Apple Circus, Teatro ZinZanni, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

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