photo of Irina Archer from Circus Corex, Martin Burton ACP Chairman and new ACP Secretary Joe Mercer.

ACP appoints Joe Mercer as new secretary

Former Showmen’s Guild secretary Joe Mercer joins the ACP

photo of ACP logo

The ACP is pleased to welcome Joe Mercer as its new secretary. He replaces Paul Archer who is now busy managing his own successful touring circus, Circus Cortex.

Joe began his career in advertising and later joined the police service. After an active career which included leading emergency response teams and being a firearms commander, he was a senior officer dealing with complex prosecutions, licensing and secure facilities.

He took early retirement to pursue a second career, having studied law and business and qualified as a company secretary. He was operations director for a company building international resorts and theme parks and has also worked in fitness to practise investigations for a professional regulator.

For three years he was the General Secretary of the Showmen’s Guild where he developed a strong network of contacts in politics, industry and the media.

Joe lives in London and is well placed to visit government bodies and regulators. He also works as a business manager for one of the City livery companies, currently heading a college teaching heritage craft skills.

Joe has extensive experience in business and management, is known and respected in the City and is the ideal person to help the ACP develop and grow. He is also a big circus fan and advocate for travelling show people.

“I can see there are number of challenges facing the circus community and I believe the key to tackling them is to build a comprehensive programme of public and political engagement so that these issues are addressed at an appropriate level. I’m very much looking forward to this challenge”, he said.

With the appointment of this new secretary the ACP looks to build upon its success of the past which includes:

  • Removing Circuses from the 2003 Licencing act, (with the help of ACP member Sir Peter Luff)
  • Achieving the inclusion of circuses within Theatre Tax Relief, which has risen to 50% this year
  • Maintaining a regular dialogue with Transport for London over LEZ/ULEZ exemptions for circuses
  • Ensuring ‘Classic Circuses’ were eligible for Cultural Recovery Funding during the Covid pandemic (eventually every ACP member got funding from CRF)
  • Ensuring the lower rate of VAT on Red Diesel was still available to circuses
  • Maintaining a dialogue with parliamentarians through the All Party Parliamentary Group as well as ACP Circus events held within the House of Commons.

As well as continuing all the valuable work the outgoing ACP secretary was doing, the ACP Chairman has asked our new secretary to look specifically at

VAT – ACP members are seeking a lower VAT rate for circuses. Circuses are a truly international product and to be able to compete with competitors in Europe and Ireland we need a competitive VAT rate.

Further issues include:


After ACP members’ success with CRF funding the association is looking for suitable ongoing funding for the ACP.


The ACP seeks to reach agreement with PRS/PPL over recognition that music used to accompany circus acts is generally incidental and a new tariff for circus should be agreed with circuses


We really have no satisfactory decision from Tf on this. The solution is for TfL to let the ACP vet members’ vehicles and decide who gets the 100 percent Showmen’s discount. We should also be lobbying for some nationwide consistency between regional LEZ rules so the ‘rules’ are consistent nationwide.


The ACP seeks to negotiate a decent discount on Public Liability Insurance, and perhaps other forms of Insurance.

Anyone wishing to reach Joe Mercer can do so via email at [email protected]

Main photo: Pictured are Irina Archer from Circus Corex, Martin Burton ACP Chairman and new ACP Secretary Joe Mercer

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