With ticket sales slipping and its 2016-2017 season cancelled, nonprofit Big Apple Circus Ltd. will attempt to juggle its draining liquidity and debt under bankruptcy court supervision.
On Sunday, Nov. 20, the New York circus petitioned for Chapter 11 relief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, listing $3.8 million in assets and $8.3 million in liabilities. Judge Sean H. Lane was assigned to the case.
The Big Apple Circus, which has performed in cities across the country and most notably in New York City since 1977, requested to sell certain assets including its storage and training facility located at 39 Edmunds Lane, Walden, N.Y. The circus aims to restart its one-ring show, which runs seasonally in the fall and winter, at its home theater, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, according to court papers.
In July, despite having a contract with the Lincoln Center through 2019, the debtor canceled all of its one-ring show performances scheduled for the 2016-2017 season after a June fundraiser, "Save the Circus," failed to raise $2 million needed to staff and market its October show, Big Apple Circus executive director Will Maitland Weiss said in a declaration.
"Despite receiving donations from over 1,400 different donors, as well as the continued financial support of the organization's directors, the circus was ultimately unable to raise sufficient funds," Weiss said.
The debtor is requesting to use a $66,058 zero-interest term loan as debtor-in-possession financing, provided by three of the circus' directors, to fund its Chapter 11 case until it sells the Walden facility. The loan is secured by a junior lien on the Walden property and will mature when the company closes on the sale of the facility.