For those of you who follow my Instagram, you may be aware that for a few weeks over the summer I took part in a project which involved aerial silks. Now, I’d tried aerial silks once in the past, but this was different. This time I was taking part in a study by Carolyn Watt from the University of Portsmouth as part of her PhD project entitled “Social circus enhanced by digital technologies to foster female empowerment (Cirque du PONT)”.
What is Cirque du PONT?
Cirque du PONT is part of a wider project known as the PONToon project which aims to develop and enhance women’s digital skills as part of social and economic inclusion. It’s part of an Interreg project across the UK and France and is being led by Professor Joan Farrer from the University of Portsmouth (“PONToon – Enterprise and Innovation”, 2017).
Why digital skills for women?
Digital technologies are advancing rapidly, and in 2015 it was reported that there had been a skills shortage in digital technologies, especially in the creative industries, marketing and media (Card, 2015).
The PONToon project aims to develop women’s digital skills across a range of digital mediums, as well as up-skilling, contributing to greater confidence in women within digital technologies and encouraging women the pursue careers in this field.
In 2017, an article by Capital One on Mashable.com reported that a 19-year-old woman found that “The training she received in tech and design has empowered and inspired her to build up skills in digital media and film production” (One, 2017). So, the concept of female empowerment stretches across the globe, as well as something driven in the PONToon project.
It was recently reported in The Telegraph that there is still a fair amount of sexism in the industry towards women, with the number of men in the sector outweighing women by a ratio of three to one (McGoogan, 2017). So, as a woman in the industry, I feel it’s integral for us women to continue to grow these skills and stand-up and show-up!
What does that have to do with circus skills?
The circus skills were the basis of Carolyn’s Cirque du PONT project. My feeling and understanding of the project was to create a social and safe environment for women to learn new skills, meet new people and grow in confidence. The digital upskilling side was developed during the 6-7 week aerial skill sessions, as well as after, where we were encouraged to edit the photograph’s taken, share on social media and start to create videos with the footage we received. During the skill training period, we also took photographs, wore head cams and filmed some of our basic training.
I didn’t quite get around to editing my own video, but please see the one Carolyn put together at the end of this blog (including me singing and playing ukulele!).
Where can I learn more about the PONToon project?
I’m glad you asked:
Interview with Prof Joan Farrer about the project: