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Ringling Brothers is Closing
Posted January 15, 2017
Feld Entertainment announced that it is closing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. After meeting with all circus employees Saturday night, Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, posted this announcement on ringling.com.

After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.

Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has served as inspiration for all of the live entertainment produced at Feld Entertainment. We learned from the circus, and applied those learnings to our other productions. Without Ringling Bros., we wouldn’t have the vibrant live entertainment company that we have today. Ringling Bros. will always be part of Feld Entertainment, and its spirit will live on in every production and project we do.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Feld

CircusNYC planned to respond with a "The circus is dead; long live the circus" response, but we couldn't have said it better than Amy Cohen already has. Amy is executive director of the American Youth Circus Organization and the American Circus Educators Association. What follows is her response to the Ringling news:

Dear Community,

With the news of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey today, it feels important to assert our our deep belief and understanding that the circus is alive and well.

Like all art forms, circus will evolve - and is evolving. While it does, we must be aware of the incredibly rich 2000 year history of circus disciplines and performance existing in a myriad of contexts and forms. It is important to grieve the loss of institutions that we have known and loved in our lifetime - especially the ones that have been dedicated to performing on US soil like RBB&B and Big Apple Circus. These institutions have sparked a generation of circus people and communities in our country, many of whom have laid the foundation for a new and different golden age of circus education and opportunity. This new wave is still unfurling - we have only just begun.

Currently we are experiencing new models of circus viability - in the form of educational institutions that teach circus arts at a variety of levels and circus in new performance venue contexts like proscenium theatres, cruise ships, and site specific locations. We are seeing recognition of circus as an art form for the first time from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. Performing arts festivals in the USA are producing more circus shows than ever before. We are in the midst of conducting the first and only study about Social Circus as a tool for developing social and emotional learning skills.

The circus education community is growing in the USA - and around the world. There are over 250 circus schools in the USA at present, and we estimate 10 new programs open each year. Our or organization - a network of circus schools, educators, and young artists - has grown from 40 to 400 members in the past 6 years. Circus schools teach circus arts to virtually every age group and have a variety of different missions - from using circus as a tool for social change, to encouraging fitness and healthy lifestyles, to training a next generation of circus artists, producers, and innovators who will usher the art form into the future.

Our organization is looking forward to a 2017 full of programming and impact. We will be hosting the 2017 American Youth Circus Festival in Trenton, NJ and expect hundreds of young circus artists, parents, and educators to attend. Each attendee represents dozens more individuals and groups who believe in and devote their lives to the circus.

We are in community with innovators and entrepreneurs who are moving forward with both respect to our circus history, and a sense of urgency for a viable and visible circus sector in the present and future. May the circus always grow and change with the times, and may the show go on, in its diverse and varied forms.

In the spirit of circus,

Amy Cohen
Note from the CircusNYC Editors: Posted as received.