What started in 1994 as a 30-kid operation with handmade equipment has blossomed into the largest youth performing arts circus in the country. There are now 1,000 year-round students.
"It's our life," said Circus Juventas executive director
"It's kind of a family love affair that ... consumes every ounce of our life, but the rewards are so great. Watching the kids grow and learn far outweighs every other challenge and roadblock."
The current location appears too small to expand, so school leaders are looking to add a second location.
Circus Juventas had hoped to add 10,000 square feet for extra dance and theater studios, a prop shop and costuming area. But after a year of negotiations, the city told Butler his plans would not work.
The bluffs and nearby Highland Park Aquatic Center box in the site, said
"The door is still open ... but it's up to them to come back to the table with something a little bit different," Meyer said.
Butler said his team and the city worked hard to reach an agreement but bogged down on parking.
Tolbert said the city has been asking Circus Juventas to develop a parking plan for the crowds its performances attract.
"They're a very good organization, so they bring in quite a few people, but the area is not really set up for that," Tolbert said, noting that attendees "shut down the whole (Highland) park" by parking on the grass and clogging roads.
"The school is at capacity," Amidon said. "I don't know where you'd fit anymore cars, though."
Butler put the expansion proposal on hold and is now exploring alternatives for a second location. There are no plans to close the
There is no specific neighborhood or city he is looking at, Butler said. But if one is found, a capital campaign will be launched for funding.
"Who knows, we might come back to the city proposal and try again," Butler said.
"In the meantime, we'll just keep doing what we do best," Butler said. "We've been functioning for six years in a space that's already been very tight, and we've been making it work. Our product has not diminished."
Circus Juventas' summer show "Neverland" will debut Friday. Butler said he looks forward to the showcase and the future of the program.
"We've got the most unique entertainment and venue in
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