Cirque du Soleil’s Daniel Lamarre: from $1bn to Zero Revenues in 48 Hours - CircusTalk

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Cirque du Soleil’s Daniel Lamarre: from $1bn to Zero Revenues in 48 Hours

The executive vice-chair steered the circus group through management change and commercial challenges — then Covid struck.
“I never thought in my life that within 48 hours, I [would go] from a billion dollars . . . of revenue to zero revenue, and there were people saying that the debt was too high and this and that. The reality is when you have no revenue, it doesn’t matter what your debt is: you have no money. Period. Full stop.”
Daniel Lamarre knows about high-wire acts — and not only the metaphorical kind. In 20 years as chief operating officer then chief executive, he helped lead Cirque du Soleil through changes of control, the global financial crisis, and natural and commercial disasters. He had always managed to keep the Montreal-based circus group’s overall show on the road. Until March 2020.
On what Lamarre now calls “Black Friday”, March 13, 71 Cirque performances around the world were cancelled as governments tried to stem the spread of coronavirus. “All the touring shows are down, but if Vegas remains open, we’re OK,” Lamarre reassured his wife. The next day, Nevada shut down non-essential businesses and the Las Vegas casinos where Cirque had six resident shows running closed indefinitely. “I came back home and I was white,” said Lamarre in a November interview. “I said to my wife, ‘It’s over’.”
Lamarre tells the tale of his and Cirque’s pandemic in Québecois-accented English, with the skill of an experienced ringmaster. But no amount of his trademark optimism can conceal the stress of the past two years. Lamarre had to repatriate the cast and support staff from multiple touring shows as flights were grounded and borders closed. Less than a week after Black Friday, he had to lay off 95 per cent of Cirque’s workforce — 4,679 people — by video. He took the company into bankruptcy protection in June 2020, running it with a skeleton staff. Two months later, the chief executive of one former investor, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, said Cirque had been one of the first businesses to close and would be the last to reopen. Lamarre and his team have already confounded that forecast. Two Vegas shows, Mystère and O, reopened in June 2021. Touring productions are springing back to life. Lamarre said: “I don’t have to rebuild the momentum. The momentum is there. And much more than I expected. Not only the momentum of the public buying tickets, but the momentum of saying we want to be associated with Cirque du Soleil.”
But coronavirus is still a threat….

Read the full-length article at the Financial Times