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Ringling Bros. Circus to Close After 146 Years

Discussion in 'Events and Announcements' started by Sir Toony Van Dukes, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Published on Jan 14, 2017
    AP Exclusive: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end 'The Greatest Show on Earth' in May, following a 146-year run. The AP learned declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing. (Jan. 14)

  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

  3. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

  4. azzy

    azzy Yes, We Have No Bananas

    Just heard. Damn shame.
  5. The Princess of Bozonia

    The Princess of Bozonia Administrator Staff Member

    Though many here had seen the (highly ornamented) handwriting on the wall, I still thought they would hang on for a while longer, probably with increasingly smaller audiences and acts. Heck, just last week they announced their first female ringmaster.

    Now I just wonder what will happen to the elephants, if they'll no longer be funding that reserve for them.
  6. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I know they had cut back on performances after the elephants retired from the show, but with the new season just beginning, I hadn't seen it coming. They say the attention span of children isn't what it used to be, so I guess Feld will also cancel all of their other acts since those too have children and families as the target audience.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    Shoot, circuses seemed a bit too long when I watched them as a kid in the 80's.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  8. KageTomari

    KageTomari prolific poster....

  9. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Thank you for seeing through the typical circus publicist bs they are spewing to justify what is, basically, a business decision with other underlying causes (and, no, I don't mean elephants, which I don't, ultimately, think has a whole lot to do with it. Indeed, pulling the elephants off might now be seen as part of a planned precursor to an expected shutdown.)

    Feld is, essentially, a real estate brokerage business. Lease stadium space, sublease seats, get people pay for the utilities (food, parking maybe) and something to decorate your space (souveniers.) Make them feel good about the experience, so they'll sublet again on next year's vacation outing.

    They, simply, have better attractions to fill that bill and attract audiences these days, since circus isn't especially the hot item it once was.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Yes, they will. They can afford it. Plus, they now have a commodity there, thanks to their relationship with big pharma in cancer research.
  11. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I know that Ringling isn't the only circus and that there are other groups still touring, so the circus isn't dead. But, I think Ringling is the universal name that everyone knows. The other groups are more regional.

    I think it would be nice if there were a company who could purchase Ringling from Feld and continue the tradition. Honestly, I don't know who has the kind of money. I would say, Disney, but Disney already has Feld running their Disney on Ice. Does Universal Studios have any type of road show? Is Six Flags still struggling for money?
  12. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I don't know that the regional circuses will last. Big Apple is up for sale as we speak. A motley mix of smaller circuses still running around, but frankly - the quality of their show has always been sub par compared to the big budget productions. I imagine they'll linger around for a few more years and the eventually fold themselves as more and more areas make it difficult for them to continue producing a show. Several big markets all ready have, or are working on, laws banning exotic animal performances (or at least the tools used in them - namely the bullhook).

    Most notably I think, is lobby power. As previously noted on these forums, I'm not a big fan of PETA (although on occasion our end goals have been similar) but there's no denying their bankroll and influence (along with cooperating celebs). It's one thing for an industry like Feld Entertainment, which has a significant purse for legal battles, PR campaigns, etc. to sustain a fight with the animal advocate groups; but I can't see smaller circus groups being able to stay afloat for long. Whether that's "right or wrong" from a capitalist point of view is another argument, but ultimately I think this fight is going to be won with bank accounts and lobby power. Chicago, New York, most of California all have laws either currently in effect or incoming that essentially close access to animal powered circuses - I expect many others to follow suit to where, if anything is left at all - it will be small markets in the south and the heartlands. How long can you sustain transporting lions, tigers, elephants, etc when you have to sell tickets on a budget to a rural sold out house of hundreds instead of thousands?

  13. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I admire the effort! Unfortunately, I think it will take the 100 (and more) requested signatures - along with donations of around $100k/each to have much of an effect on this decision. My advice, if you're a fan of the circus and truly disheartened by this turn of events is to try and go see a show before the May finale. The curtains are closing on these antiquated acts - probably forever.
  14. KageTomari

    KageTomari prolific poster....

    I'm sure it can get more then 100 well I believe it can as for the money part don't know what to do about that
  15. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I don't think circus is dying. Rather, it is transforming. Given, traditional American circus may be already gone. In fact, if one talks to circus historians, they almost all insist that it's been nothing but down hill since the 1930s. So......slow decline, I suppose.

    A very real concern, however, is something which Amy Cohen of AYCO points out: visibility. What Ringling did was to keep circus widely in the public eye, as well as allow for accessibility at a relatively affordable price point. (Yes, you could spend a fortune on concessions, but a family could buy tickets without breaking the bank.) Now, defining circus and offering an experience of such won't be as readily available to so many people.

    Yes, there are numerous shows out on the road, still. Many of the more traditional oriented offerings, however, are playing among smaller communities in rural areas, or using sponsorship and fundraising models to provide circus on suburban school lots and such. A few are taking contracts for festivals or more artistic endeavors. Then others perform, often sans animals at inflated prices at shopping centers. And this is even excluding Soleil.

    I do think that smaller endeavors will survive in some sense, as there is a desire for circus and a need for performance opportunity. But, what I'll really miss about Ringling are the larger scale acts and international acts that they were able to afford presenting, which few (if any) other shows will.

    And, yes, there is a lot of youth circus out there which should be supported, often by individual local communities. But, that is ultimately a different sort of thing from major performance stages.

    Contemporary forms of circus are also increasing. However, the stages upon which they show and appeal seems to be more in major cities where there is appreciation for theater, which unfortunately almost ends up being at odds with the traditionally populist circus audience.

    So....where does circus go? I'm not sure, exactly. But I think that it will need to get more creative and adaptable in figuring out and finding an audience, as well as redefining itself, in moving forward.

    Oh, and as for animals...who knows, perhaps one day soon there will be somebody touring a single elephant, an amazing oddity in our times, to small communities that find such acceptable. It will amaze and intrigue audiences, which will travel from afar, to witness such stupendous splendifference. And, thus, the cycle of animal exhibition in the U.S. will be complete.
  16. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Also, regarding the future of animals in circus...Horses! Which is also the origin of modern circus. People got so hung up on experiencing exotics (which, I admit to appreciating, personally) that the horses often got overlooked.

    But, the reality is that most big cat acts on smaller or shrine shows are quite inferior and often not terribly interesting. (Some independent acts are actually good, however, with trainers that take a special interest in their work with endangered species.)

    Elephant acts are usually unoriginal in presentation. Once you've seen one, you've sort of seen them all. Though, it can be exciting to experience these amazing animals in person, nonetheless, they are expensive to own and tour. Often, any profit has to be made on providing rides around the ring at ten bucks a pop. And, most shows just can't afford them at all.

    But horse acts can be unchallenging to tour and are readily available. Plus, the long standing human relationship with horses may hold greater natural appeal as something accessible to all.

    Perhaps the future of animals in circus is a return to its roots, a renewed emphasis on the horse.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. The NORMAL One

    The NORMAL One Active Member

    Sad, to see it go. It was one great way to see professional clowns?
  18. chinese buffet

    chinese buffet New Member

    Too many forms of entertainment in 2017. Kids would rather watch reruns on Netflix or play the newest mobile app than to go to the circus.
    I would imagine many forms of live entertainment have dropped off in total numbers and revenue, such as pro wrestling, monster trucks, etc. It's been the same for years and people have already seen the show. Lastly, the generation trend is to move on to something new and better...the flavor of the week attitude. Who wants to see a monkey do a backflip, when you can youtube a monkey drinking a beer and doing a backflip?
    • Agree Agree x 1

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