Cirque du Soleil is filing for bankruptcy protection, and will lay off 3,480 workers as part of an attempt to restructure its business to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is headquartered in Montreal but runs performances in cities across the globe. According to Fast Company, it’s initial filing for protection is under Canadian bankruptcy law, with the expectation that it would also ask for protection under Chapter 15 of U.S. bankruptcy code should that be approved.
The impacted workers represent the overwhelming majority of the company’s workforce, who had been temporarily laid off earlier in the pandemic in hopes that they might be brought back with a swift resumption of performances after the initial spike of cases subsided.
“It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history,” CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement at the time of the initial job cuts. “We’re deeply saddened by the dramatic measures taken [as it] 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.”
Cirque has also entered a purchase agreement with its three main stakeholders – TPG Capital, Fosun, and Caisse de depot et Placement. This deal includes some $300 million of liquidity to help its attempts to resume operations in the future. It previously received $200 million in funding from the government of Quebec.
According to Fast Company, Cirque had over 40 performances up and running when the coronavirus ground live entertainment to a halt. This includes residencies in cities like Las Vegas and Orlando, as well as touring performances.