Where does an unemployed acrobat look for work?
That’s the question that soon will be on the minds of many in Montreal, if news reports of possible job cuts at Cirque du Soleil are accurate.
The Montreal-based circus that has gained international fame in the past decade for its extravagant productions would neither confirm nor deny news reports in the Quebec press that the company is planning to cut staff in the wake of show closings.
Anonymous sources close to the company told Radio-Canada they expect about 400 layoffs, mostly in the Montreal office. Le Devoir cited a small Quebec news site as saying layoffs will affect between 400 and 600 employees, and that, ultimately, layoffs could touch up to 20 per cent of the company’s staff.
Some 2,000 of the circus’ 5,000 employees work at head office in Montreal.
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“I will confirm that Cirque is currently reviewing all its operations to ensure viable and controlled costs,” company public relations director Renée-Claude Ménard told the Montreal Gazette. “We have adjusted our production schedules and are operating close to 20 shows worldwide. Now we are adapting our workflow to this new reality.”
Cirque du Soleil will have 19 shows operating, after the recent shutdowns of four of them, and the upcoming shutdown of Iris, which is showing in Los Angeles and was cut reportedly due to a lack of public interest.
Company president Daniel Lamarre told Le Devoir that Cirque needs to adjust to a new business model after a decade of “explosive growth.” He said that, with the company still showing annual revenue of $1 billion, he does not see a crisis on the horizon.
The company is also struggling due to box office losses on its movie, Worlds Away, which cost $30 million to produce and has not broken even, according to Les News in Quebec.
Employees will be convened at Cirque’s Montreal office on Wednesday for a meeting which will lay out the company's new direction, including the possible job cuts, according to multiple news sources.