The circus is coming … back. Feld Entertainment is casting for a new version of the Greatest Show on Earth, as it plans an animal-free relaunch of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 2023.
An official announcement is planned for 2022, but the news was divulged Thursday during a question-and-answer session at the VenuesNow Conference in Seattle featuring Feld Entertainment Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld and Juliette Feld Grossman, the family entertainment giant’s chief operating officer.
The session was moderated by Eric Bresler, Oak View Group’s senior vice president of programming at Climate Pledge Arena. (Oak View Group owns Pollstar and VenuesNow.)
Feld Entertainment, which tours Disney on Ice, Monster Jam and Supercross among its family entertainment brands, shuttered the circus in 2017 after animal rights activists’ uproar over the treatment of performing elephants and other animals.
The new version will focus on human performers, and some technology will be brought to bear where it makes sense in connecting with people, Grossman, who once was a clown car performer in the circus, told VenuesNow.
“In 2023 we will be relaunching Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,” a choked-up Grossman said to audience applause. “You can see it’s emotional and exciting for us as a family. We really feel that Ringling Bros. has incredible relevance to today’s audience.”
Earlier during the session, Kenneth Feld detailed how the company had to bring home nearly 3,000 performers and crew members and 800 to 1,000 shipping containers of equipment scattered across the globe among 28 tours when the pandemic struck in March 2020.
What followed was a reassessment of the operation with an eye toward doing things Feld Entertainment had been doing for decades, only better.
“We looked at our company like a 50-year-old startup,” Feld said…