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Big Apple Circus to Fold its Tent Due to Lack of Funding

Big Apple Circus to Fold its Tent Due to Lack of Funding

Big Apple Circus is ceasing its performances after pitching its tent behind Lincoln Center every holiday season since 1981. 

The Big Apple Circus has been a popular New York City institution since first pitching its tent in 1981. The non-profit organization, however, won’t be putting on any more performances, closing after over thirty years due to a fundraiser that fell short, according to The New York Times

It’s not the end of Big Apple Circus altogether, though, as the organization will use remaining funds to continue several other programs it runs. 

The success of Big Apple Circus throughout the years has been supported in large part by donations from the Wall Street community, which allowed it to showcase its annual holiday-season run behind Lincoln Center, visit sick children in the hospital, and even give away tens of thousands of tickets for free. Unfortunately, after the 2008 financial crisis, the group lost many of its funds and has reached a point where it cannot continue performances.

In an attempt to raise enough funds to continue perations, the circus launched a public fundraising campaign last month, but succeeded in raising only $900,000 of the $2 million goal it had set. 

“That special individual didn’t step up and say, ‘I want to make the Big Apple Circus available to all New Yorkers and take it into the glorious future,’” Will Maitland Weiss, the executive director, told the Times. 

Although the money is not enough to go forward with rehearsals and ticket marketing, the organization will use its existing funds to keep the Big Apple spirit alive with community programs: Clown Care features red-nosed characters visiting 16 pediatric hospitals nationwide, and Vaudeville Visits has performers connect with seniors in residential care. Big Apple Circus will also continue to offer Circus To Go, in which clowns, acrobats, and trapeze performers perform for private parties and charity events. 

The circus, which uses ponies and dogs instead of tigers and elephants, has brought joy to all kinds of New Yorkers for years. With special performances for blind and deaf children, as well as kids with autism,  the organization has always gone the extra mile to spread joy. 

“We will continue operating Clown Care and other community programs and hope to be able to return to performing under out Big Top in a later season,” Weiss said, according to Playbill.

RELATED: Discover the best kids events in the NY Metro area.


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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes is a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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