The Montreal-based acrobatic circus organization Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group has had to temporarily lay off 95% of its staff, or 4,679 individuals, after it was forced to suspend 44 of its live shows internationally.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus through practicing social distancing, Cirque du Soleil earlier suspended all of its shows in Las Vegas after resort hotels and casinos across the city were closed down.
“We’re deeply saddened by the dramatic measures taken today, as the temporary layoff includes many hardworking, dedicated people. Unfortunately, this decision is our only option as we are forced to position ourselves to weather this storm and prepare for eventual re-openings,” Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said in a statement.
“Consequently, the company was left with no other option but to call for an unprecedented halt in activity until the pandemic is controlled and its performers, employees and audience members are no longer at risk,” the company added in a statement. “This decision is not one that was taken lightly.”
The circus will proceed with a “core support team” to continue planning touring and ticket sales for later this year and beyond into 2021. Re-hiring of staff will begin “as soon as productions are allowed to resume.”
Among the shows impacted by the closing of the theaters were “Mystère” at Treasure Island, “O” at the Bellagio, “Zumanity” at New York New York, “KÀ” at the MGM Grand, “The Beatles LOVE” at The Mirage, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay and “Blue Man Group.”
Cirque du Soleil also saw shows suspended across the country and the globe, including in Spain, Munich, Australia, Tel Aviv as well as Austin, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Boston and its home base of Montreal.
“As one of the most trusted brands and successful live entertainment organizations, we are confident that when the day comes when we can reopen our shows, we will be ready to welcome the millions of fans who come to our shows worldwide,” Lamarre concluded.