Sunday, January 15, 2017

Culture Watch: End of the line for THE circus -- bye-bye, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey


-- from, the company website

So what do you suppose the new administration plans to do to Save Our Circus and Make the Circus Great Again?-- Ken

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to End Its 146-Year Run


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever.

In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year.
“This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” the statement said. “The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me.”

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, said in an interview on Saturday night that the closing would affect about 400 cast and crew members.

“We looked at the performance in 2016 and advance tickets sales in 2017, and we decided it was not a viable business model,” he said.

The company informed employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando, Fla., and Miami.

“There isn’t any one thing,” Mr. Feld told The Associated Press. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

Ringling has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The final shows will be on May 7 in Providence, R.I., and on May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

The final appearance of the circus in New York City will be from Feb. 23 to March 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

An estimated 10 million people go to a Ringling circus each year.

Mr. Feld told The A.P. that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children — are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price.”
The Feld family bought Ringling in 1967.

Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary, leading to the removal of the elephants, among the most popular features of the performances. The company sent its animals to live on a conservation farm in Florida.

On Twitter on Saturday night, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigned for the elephants’ removal, heralded what it called “the end of the saddest show on earth.” . . .
Read the full story, with links, onsite.

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At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard not to have mixed feelings about this. I can remember being absolutely astonished by their circus parade, complete with elephants and performers, coming down the street when I was a small child; I had a grandparent who grew up with the Ringling Brothers, (later of Barnum & Bailey's Flying Circus.)

There was something amazing about gathering in a huge tent, at night, and seeing the flying trapeze performers. There is magic in communal, live entertainment. Before tv and radio and the internet, the circus coming to town was the big show, and for some people, the big way to get out of town.

It's really too bad they can't make a go of it without the elephants.


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