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Much-loved community circus forced to close amid rent hikes

14 May 2024 3 minute read
Trainer Jess Li on silks. Image: Up Side Down Circus

A much-loved community circus has announced it will have to close its doors due to steep rent hikes – from £6,500 to £30,000 a year – leaving its members “absolutely devastated”. 

Up Side Down Circus, on Cardiff’s Tremorfa Industrial Estate, is due to shut later this month and is one of eight local businesses affected after the Cave Venture Workshops were sold. 

Co-founder Chris Moore said: “We’ve worked so hard to create this training space and we have an amazing community here. I just can’t believe we’re going to lose it all.”


Chris was 24 when he set up the community interest company in Splott with fellow circus performer and trainer Tammi Brown, after the pair worked together at NoFit State Circus.

They rented the unit from Business in Focus – a social enterprise designed to support Welsh businesses to start-up and grow. 

Chris and Tammi worked hard, with help from family and friends, to transform the empty unit into a thriving training space, used by professional artists, school groups and community participants.

Specialist James Holt travelled from Germany to install the flying trapeze rig, while local artist Dom Tsoi created a colourful mural, inspired by traditional big top circus shows.


Since 2017, Up Side Down Circus has offered evening and weekend classes including aerial hoop, aerial yoga, Chinese pole, juggling, rope and silks, with a focus on physical and mental health.

Chris – who has ADHD, autism and dyslexia – struggled to fit in at school, but felt happy and accepted when he joined youth circus. He has worked hard to make the training space friendly and inclusive. 

Up Side Down Circus has around 700 members, including 300 regulars, and the team organise community shows, as well as providing a space for professional performers to work. The cast from Wales Millennium Centre’s sell-out Christmas cabarets used the training space to rehearse and Ian H Watkins, from pop group Steps, has trained on the flying trapeze. 

Halloween Show 2023

Business in Focus confirmed in January the building was due to be sold and within a month, Chris found out there was a new owner – who wanted to increase the rent from around £6,500 a year to £30,000 a year. With business rates, insurance and service charges all set to rise too, he said it will be impossible to continue the company he’s worked so hard to build. 

Other small businesses have also been affected by the sale of the units, including The PattyMan – a fusion Welsh-Jamaican grocery store – and award-winning jam company Penylan Preserves. Other companies include bespoke furniture workshop Henderson & Mills, plant-based Pâtisserie Verte, mobile kitchen Captain Joys, Industrial Training Services UK and Window Fitters Rates. 

Chris said they have collectively engaged with Business in Focus and asked their local councillors and Member of the Senedd Vaughan Gething for support, but felt let down and didn’t know where to turn. He added writing to loyal community members to tell them he was going to have to close was one of the most difficult things he’s ever had to do. 

Dr Jordan Holt, a clinical psychologist, who has been learning trapeze at Up Side Down for the last five years described it as her “safe space”, adding: “I’ve made so many friends here.” 

Residential childcare worker Darren Thomas, who trains flying trapeze and juggling, said he couldn’t believe the news, while designer and trapeze learner Paige Strugnell described it as “truly devastating”. 

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