Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 3

Remarks by Art Jennings

(Here is an edited version of remarks made by Art Jennings, an IJA founder and its first president at the IJA Birthday Party in Akron.)

For me to even attempt to say how I feel at this momentous occasion in any length of time would be absolutely impossible. It is overwhelming to see so many dedicated jugglers who have done so much to further our beloved art. Therefore, may I just raise one of my old juggling clubs in salute and tribute and say, "Happy Birthday!"...

1947 was a year of beginnings. All years are, but the beginnings of that time seemed more dramatic and more important. No beginning was as important to me as the realization of my dream to have a friendly organization of jugglers where they would help each other and preserve our beloved art. And to me, juggling is an art. Sadly, at that time some of my juggler friends would not talk to each other, and it was no uncommon for a professional juggler to eliminate a trick or two if another juggler was in the audience....

Talking pictures had sounded the death knell of vaudeville as we knew it... But there were lots of places for a variety act to work. Not only the theaters and the many clubs, but circuses and ice shows and roller shows. Most of the fraternal organizations would have live shows on the weekends. There were more than a dozen legitimate theatrical agencies in Pittsburgh with national and even international connections. A good variety act could work around a major city almost indefinitely...

Still, there were those of us who truly believed that juggling might fade away just as the song and dance act had done. You see, juggling was not a sport. Juggling was strictly a part of show business. Consider the availability of props. Harry Lind was one of the few people producing professional quality juggling props, and he was becoming very selective in his clientele.

With all of that, for me to say that the formation of IJA has been responsible for the phenomenal growth and development of juggling would be an irresponsible statement. Yet I, for one, would like to believe that the organization of IJA was perhaps the catalyst, the beginning, perhaps even the foundation upon which that development has been built.

One cannot deny that the membership of IJA and the associates has provided the nucleus and the market for the books and the props and the schools without which that development and growth might never have taken place. For all you have done in the past 40 years, I thank you!

Remarks by Art Jennings / Index, Vol. 39, No. 3 / jis@juggling.org
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