Leeds Aerial Arts: Circus studio to close after 10 years due to Covid-19 impact

A circus studio in Leeds is closing its doors this week after ten years in business.

Leeds Aerial Arts (LAA) will close permanently after its final classes on Saturday (Apr 13) as it has struggled to financially recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Founder Lorna Mackinder-Clark, 31, began running classes in 2014 after receiving a bursary of £300 from Yorkshire Dance and moved to the Kirkstall studio in 2021. LAA teaches skills where various apparatus are suspended from the ceiling including hoop, silks, and trapeze for brand new beginners through to advanced students.

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Announcing the closure on Instagram Lorna said: “This has been an incredibly tough decision. My head and my heart knows that the venue is no longer financially viable, but closing feels so, so hard.”

Leeds Aerial Arts is set to close down this weekend.Leeds Aerial Arts is set to close down this weekend.
Leeds Aerial Arts is set to close down this weekend.

Following the announcement, students took to social media to share their feelings.

Amara-Jade Priestley, a student at LAA, posted on Instagram: “I am so unbelievably heartbroken. LAA has healed me in so many ways.”

Another student Yvonne Foncubierta said: “I found a community of like-minded people and I have made lifelong friends. It has been a relief when everything was too much and therapy when I couldn’t cope.”

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Aerial skills have gained popularity in recent years with more people recognising the physical and mental benefits of the exercise. It is a ‘disguised fitness’, meaning it is so enjoyable and fun that people don’t realise how hard it works their core and upper body.

Leeds Aerial Arts is just one of many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat in the city. Zero waste shop Leeds Refills and vegan takeaway Friends of Food closed their doors last year.

Lorna said as well as struggling to financially recover from losses after Covid, the situation has been exacerbated by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Although Leeds Aerial Arts is closing the doors to their studio, Lorna hopes the community will continue to prosper in Leeds.

She said: “If you have gained joy, confidence, strength and friendships from Leeds Aerial Arts, know that these will continue and I will close the studio with a feeling of pride and celebration. I will continue to share my love and expertise for aerial, inspiring people to feel strong inside and out - just without a physical venue going forward.”

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Minnie Tegan, a student from LAA has written a farewell message: “Thank you Lorna for giving myself and so many others the space to thrive and discover ourselves through something so special. You’ve changed so many lives.”

Lorna and LAA can be found on Instagram at @leedsaerialarts.

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