Faced with the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19, Cirque du Soleil temporarily laid off 95% of its staff, or 4,679 employees. These cuts take effect immediately.
According to La Presse, Cirque’s management communicated the news to its employees earlier this morning via online video to avoid reuniting the 1,300 employees at its head office. Just two days ago, Cirque announced the temporary layoff of 2,600 employees, including 1,200 artists, or just over half of its 4,900 employees.The company has just published a press release confirming the news:
REQUIRED CLOSURE OF ALL SHOWS FORCES COMPANY TO TAKE SIGNIFICANT STEPS TO STABILIZE AND PREPARE FOR POST-CRISIS REOPENINGS
MONTREAL, March 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the forced closure of all its shows worldwide to ensure the health, safety and well-being of its employees, artists and guests, Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is forced to make significant temporary staff reductions, impacting 95% of its workforce for a total of 4679 employees, effective immediately. This was an incredibly difficult decision for the Group, but a necessary measure to stabilize the company for the future.
As a result of the health crisis, cities and countries where the Group performs have unanimously legislated the closure of public gatherings of more than 250 people, following government guidance. Consequently, the company was left with no other option but to call for an unprecedented halt in activity until the pandemic is controlled and its performers, employees and audience members are no longer at risk. When this crisis started, the Group had in its portfolio of active shows 44 productions. Following the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that the coronavirus situation was now characterized as a pandemic, the company had no other choice but to shut down all operations. This decision is not one that was taken lightly.
“It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history. We’re deeply saddened by the dramatic measures taken today, as the temporary layoff includes many hardworking, dedicated people. Unfortunately, this decision is our only option as we are forced to position ourselves to weather this storm and prepare for eventual re-openings,” says Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is working with all its partners, as well as the federal and provincial governments, to identify how to best support its employees and prepare for a healthy return as soon as the pandemic is controlled. Immediate steps to provide support for employees who have been laid off temporarily include paid vacation time, insurance coverage maintained during the temporary layoff and access to the Group’s employee support program.
These strategic actions will position Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group to continue operations and rebuild once the global crisis subsides. A core support team will continue working in the company to maintain basic operations, continue tour planning and ticket sales for their shows later this year and in 2021, and prepare for rehiring as soon as productions are allowed to resume. “As one of the most trusted brands and successful live entertainment organizations, we are confident that when the day comes when we can reopen our shows, we will be ready to welcome the millions of fans who come to our shows worldwide,” concluded Daniel Lamarre.