NICA was established as an independent company after a feasibility study commissioned in 1995 by Swinburne University of Technology identified strong demand and market opportunities for circus arts.
NICA is a subsidiary company of Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. The company is limited by guarantee and registered as a cultural organisation.
From humble beginnings in an unrenovated warehouse in the Docklands, NICA ran a pilot project in 1999. Eight participants of the pilot project went on to complete a Diploma of Circus Arts in 2001, and all found employment with Australian companies the following year.
In 2001, NICA had its first intake of degree students to the Bachelor of Circus Arts. Over 100 people auditioned from across Australia for 23 places. In 2003, NICA conferred degrees to the first graduates from the three-year program. Today, there are more than 60 students across three year levels.