Staying closed is no laughing matter with circuses facing bleak future

Visits of the circus to the West Midlands could be a thing of the past unless help is given, it was warned today.

A human cannon ball with fello circus performers from the Association of Circus Proprietors (ACP) deliver a petition to Downing Street, London, calling for the right to reopen ahead of the busy summer season
A human cannon ball with fello circus performers from the Association of Circus Proprietors (ACP) deliver a petition to Downing Street, London, calling for the right to reopen ahead of the busy summer season

Shows from across the UK will be forced to close within weeks if the government does not allow them to reopen before the school summer holidays, according to industry leaders.

A number of shows due to visit our region have already fallen by the wayside because of lockdown. They include Circus Sallai at Wolverhampton Racecourse and Circus Fantasia at Oswestry’s Park Hall Farm. The Association of Circus Proprietors has criticised the government for failing to include circuses in the list of businesses that were allowed to reopen on July 4.

It sent a human cannonball to Downing Street to make the point that the circus tradition in the UK was at risk of disappearing.

According to the association, circus owners expected to be allowed to open again this month but were “shocked” last week when they were not included.

John Haze, from the ACP, said: “Circuses cannot be regarded as theatres. Circuses have mobile seating, which can cope with a certain amount of social distancing by reconfiguring the forward-facing seats, and side walls can be lifted to allow a flow of air through the big top, and box offices and food outlets are outside. The crucial thing is time is rapidly running out for circuses.

“Theatres in the main tend to be dark during the summer months so they do have a little more time, whereas circuses must be open in time for the school summer holidays. If this deadline is missed it will certainly be the end of the road for most of the UK’s circuses. There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel and the future of a 250-year-old British invention is under urgent threat.”

Mr Haze said there were more than 30 circus companies operating in the UK, which also receives international companies such as Cirque du Soleil, the Moscow State Circus and the Chinese State Circus.

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