This is terrible news for those who were hoping to come out of the COVID-19 lockdown and secure a $200 ticket to see charmingly quirky and suggestively sexual French Canadian contortionists and acrobats thrust, bend and swing around. Because Cirque du Soleil has declared bankruptcy due to coronavirus-impacted profits.
We knew things were bad for Cirque du Soleil back in March, just a week after North America went into COVID-19 lockdown. 95% of Cirque’s employees (roughly 4,700 people) were notified that the sun was temporarily setting on their Spandex circus dreams, when CEO Daniel Lamarre announced they were getting laid off (after being assured their jobs were safe). CNN reports that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy on Monday, unsurprisingly placing the blame squarely on COVID-19. Daniel Lamarre released the following statement:
“For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organization. However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to Covid-19, management had to act decisively to protect the company’s future.”
The company claims they’re trying to restructure its debt with the help of the Canadian government (Cirque’s business is based in Montreal, Quebec), as well as private equity firms.
Daniel also released a video to Cirque employees, explaining that their COVID-19 goal was to find a way to keep the company alive for the sake of their employees. He says that border closures, travel bans, and social distancing, “shut down the entire industry,” which has forced them into a “refinancing exercise.” He also claimed they were offered a $200 million USD loan from the Quebec government, but that they didn’t have access to the loan right now, which kind of fucked things up. You can watch that video here, and he’s still working those blue Bono glasses.
CNN also says that despite the promise of loans and investment funding, it doesn’t really help when they’re reportedly almost $1 billion in debt. Which is why they declared bankruptcy, as well as laid off 3,500 employees. That’s a smaller number than the one we were previously given back in March, and it’s not totally clear whether about 4,700 employees had to apply for the CERB, or 3,500.
Cirque was forced to suspend more than a dozen productions, including six in Las Vegas and about ten shows that are on tour around the world. But with a whole lot of people stuck inside, the interest in trippy, unsettling performance art dropped to zero. Plus, they just couldn’t compete with the dazzling displays of agility that people were getting for free at home, like that video of the squirrel trying to get out of the pool. And if people were missing the clown element of Cirque, they could just log on to Facebook. Because it really doesn’t take long before you come across a clown screaming, “ThE ViRuS iS a HoAx.”