Is Big 'Cirque du Soleil' Style Circus an Economic Indicator of Recovery for the Performing Arts?

Circus News

Is Big ‘Cirque du Soleil’ Style Circus an Economic Indicator of Recovery for the Performing Arts?

Many dark months have passed on stages around the world. And suddenly a sign in circus– Cirque du Soleil announced earlier this spring that it would start up operations again (after a tumultuous year of layoffs, show closings, bankruptcy proceedings and restructuring) and would remount two of their shows, O and Mystere, starting in their home show zone of Las Vegas, Nevada. Soon after they announced that the Cirque affiliate showBlue Man Group will also return to the Luxor Hotel and Casino in June. Since then, waves of announcements have been streaming in from circus companies of all sizes and shapes for summer openings as well as far-reaching dates. For example, theHollywood Reporterreported that Cirque’sLUZIA will reopen at London’s Royal Albert Hall starting in January of 2022. While mid-sized Australian circus company Circa has been tentatively booking shows on their own COVID-managed continent since March of 2021, and UK-based Gandini Juggling has a full summer and fall touring their hit show Smashed around the UK and Europe even as they are developing new works. With signs like these, it is tempting to ask, can big circus companies that are remounting shows and tours be an economic indicator of recovery for circus in particular and performing arts in general? That may be the case, as some performing art forms like theater, with a history of deeper funding infrastructure, have had the luxury to postpone their return to the stage, Broadway plans to reopen in September for example, so looking for signs of recovery may fall to the performing arts genres that have taken a leap of faith or that can’t afford to wait. Leave it up to circus to take that leap! 
Mixed Signals These tentative signs of improvement as the vaccine rolled out in the spring and the COVID cases dropped were hopeful, but if you were watching the mainstream news at this time, it would seem as if only one recovery mattered, that of Cirque du Soleil. Is the recovery of this megacompany the main economic barometer to a recovery in the performing arts world, or are there other indicators? It turns out that it was a pretty good signal to the rest of the live circus show/touring scene, but that the company is not alone in its contingency planning and the urgent need to get back up and running–they’re just the most visible. Rumors of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey comeback have been circulating for months in the US, with an understated Linked In announcement of the new casting director (Giulio Scatola). Dr...
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Kim Campbell

Kim Campbell has written about circus for CircusTalk.News, Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, Circus Promoters and was a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. They are the former editor of CircusTalk.News, American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where they write about circus, theatre, arts and culture. Kim is a member of the American Theater Critics Association.