Circus puts things away when it isn't on the road
Mon, Jun 28, 2010
my paper

IN A self-storage space in Toa Payoh, there is a room filled with things associated with a circus.

Unicycles, plastic saucers of various colours, spinning reels (called diabolos) and balance boards (called rola-bolas) are among the many bulky props that belong to Circus Outreach.

Photo: myp, Ong Wee Jin

The non-profit youth organisation conducts school workshops for "at-risk" young people who need guidance in life.

The group also performs at street and clown festivals in Singapore and overseas.

The items in self-storage once cluttered up the group's studio and office in Tanjong Pagar. They were moved to StorHub Self Storage in 2006.

Said Circus Outreach founder and professional comedy juggler Knik Pang: "We used to have a studio and office in Tanjong Pagar but rental became very expensive in 2005.

"We were paying $1,543.50 per month for the studio space but rental here for a storage space is only $350 a month."

Home for the props is a 60 sq ft non-air-conditioned room at StorHub, a pioneer in Singapore's self-storage industry.

The self-storage service is 24-hours and this means Mr Pang and his five facilitators and performers have round-the-clock access to their props.

"My facilitators can come here to get their props anytime," said Mr Pang, 35, who founded the group in 2001.

He added that the group is like a circus which moves from one place to another for performances.

Access to their storage space is via security password and biometric fingerprint technology, said Mr Pang.

The group keeps many props at any one time, with most of them stored in the various schools where they conduct their workshops, which typically last 10 weeks each.

But the group faces a storage problem during the school holidays.

"It is during December when students are on holiday and there are no workshops being held that we have a problem keeping our props," said Mr Pang.

"That's when the storage space comes in really handy." Now that the group has given up its office-cum-studio in Tanjong Pagar, where do the members rehearse their performances?

"We go to a free space at Toa Payoh Lorong 1 for our rehearsals... We practise on Wednesdays from 8pm to midnight," said Mr Pang.

The group would rent a studio only to make props that are too huge to be constructed in the self-storage space, such as a big backdrop for a performance.

Having an affordable storage space is important for the group as it is a non-profit organisation.

"We'll be here a long time. The space is fantastic for our props and we are really happy to keep it this way," said Mr Pang.

If there is any shortcoming about renting a self-storage space for all the group's props, it would be this: a growing collection as a result of the availability of space.

Said Mr Pang: "When you have this space to store things, you just keep buying more.

"As we don't keep an inventory of the items, we have lost count of what we have."



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