No More: The Big Apple big top in City Hall Plaza in better days.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

LISTEN: The Big Apple Circus Folds Its Tent, Just Days After Ringling Bros.

January 19, 2017

After nearly forty years in business, the Big Apple Circus' tent is coming down.

Last week, the nationally renowned circus put its assets up for auction. That news came alongside the announcement that later this year, competitor Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its final performance.

The Big Apple Circus was well-loved in Boston, the city where it toured the most outside its home base of New York City. Big Apple Circus' executive director Will Maitland Weiss spoke with WGBH All Things Considered about why the circus is shutting down, and what the its end means for the future of circuses.

Interview Highlights

On the reasons for shutting down

"We were coming to Boston year after year and instead of our attendance inching up 5 percent, 10 percent, we had remarkably stable numbers. Stable is not bad news in the way that shrinking is bad news - but stable is also cautionary. We were getting amazing repeat business - but if it's just the same people coming back again. Then that's going to be a problem in terms of cost expanding and revenue essentially staying flat."

On what the end of the Big Apple Circus means for performers and staff

"The performers are the tip of the iceberg if you will. They're 25 people who you see in the ring when you come to the circus performance. And there are another 100 people who are surrounding them who also travel with the tent. Their life is with the circus ... for the people who were with big apple circus and who live at the tent they absolutely are uprooted." 

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