Virginia Commonwealth University Revives Creative Circus


When The Creative Circus announced it was closing in 2023, it was yet another nail in the coffin for portfolio schools, which have seen fewer students because of high prices.

Virginia Commonwealth University has now acquired The Creative Circus and wants to make it more inclusive for undergraduates looking to get into the industry, and it’s getting help from agency McKinney for the relaunch.

“We’re starting off doing a hybrid model so folks can work toward a certificate, but they can also choose a specialty,” Vann Graves, executive director of VCU’s Brandcenter advertising and marketing school, told Adweek.

Graves added that this new version of The Creative Circus aims to be more flexible. In the short term, the school will offer individual courses online, with the long-term goal of creating stackable credentials that could lead to an undergraduate degree if students choose to do so.

The prices will be more affordable as well, and charged by the course. Classes will be offered both at VCU and online. Graves said they are still sorting out the details of pricing and when classes will start, but they are looking at summer 2024.

The Creative Circus, the award-winning portfolio school from Ancora Education, has roughly 3,000 alumni and the loss to the industry was devastating to those who attended. The reincarnation by VCU as a hybrid program taught by marketing industry leaders and subject matter experts will help prepare today’s creatives for the industry.

VCU, which already includes the acclaimed Brandcenter master’s program, is planning to reopen The Creative Circus with a focus on copywriting, art direction, design and content creation. The program will offer a range of open enrollment classes and, soon after, will kick off its certificate program.

When it was announced that The Creative Circus would be closing in April 2022, Brandcenter made the decision to offer support to Creative Circus students, which led to the acquisition of the school. VCU’s dean of the School of Business, Naomi Boyd, announced the acquisition by highlighting the importance of meeting today’s students where they are and creating a program that provides creatives with the opportunity to build their portfolio without the added expense of either an undergraduate or graduate degree.

“The closure of The Creative Circus was a significant loss to the advertising industry, leaving a void that needs to be filled. Alumni of The Creative Circus have made a lasting impact not only nationally, but also internationally. It is with great pride that we are able to support the reopening of The Creative Circus, ensuring the continuity of this esteemed institution,” said Boyd in a statement.

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