New Owners of Big Apple Circus Plan to Raise the Big Top Again

News   New Owners of Big Apple Circus Plan to Raise the Big Top Again
The decades-old non-profit has found a buyer for its name and equipment.
Save the Circus HR

Compass Partners LLC has won a bidding contest for the assets of The Big Apple Circus and will pay $1.3 million to own the circus’ name and equipment.

The Sarasota, Florida-based development and investment company told the Wall Street Journal that it plans to reconstitute the circus in time for a New York engagement this year. “The intent is definitely to have the show in New York for the 2017 holiday season,” Alison Bauer, a lawyer for CP, told the Journal.

Compass Partners submitted the winning bid as part of the circus’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The sale is subject to the approval of the court.

The Big Apple Circus posted the following statement on its official website: “Our choice was based on Compass Partners offering the highest bid and making a compelling case to revive the circus performances consistent with the original Big Apple Circus mission and values: serving family audiences in NYC and on tour, sensitive to accessibility and to differently abled audiences."

The non-profit Big Apple Circus has provided family-friendly entertainment on tour around the U.S. for the past 40 years. As previously reported, the circus, which has been struggling financially for several years, failed to reach its goal in a “Save the Circus” fundraising effort and canceled the 2016–17 season. The organization had hoped to raise $2 million by August 1, 2016.

The circus, which performed under a red canvas circus tent in New York‘s Damrosch Park each holiday season through 2015, released a statement in summer 2016 saying, “Big Apple Circus, whose performances in New York and around the country have thrilled audiences for years, announced today that while it has not raised sufficient funds to produce a show under its Big Top next season, the recent donations it has received will enable the organization to restructure and continue to provide community service programs, including Clown Care, which brings the joy of classical circus to hospitalized children.”

The aforementioned assets include all of the Circus' performance equipment and intellectual property, among other items. The auction was held at the New York offices of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, who are serving pro bono as the Big Apple Circus’ legal counsel in the bankruptcy case. Details regarding the sale process, including bidding procedures and asset list, can be found online at

Will Maitland Weiss, executive director of the Big Apple Circus, said in a statement, “We are grateful to our board members, staff, artists, donors, audience members, and community partners who have stood by us and continued to offer their support to save the Circus. We hope to see a revived Big Apple Circus back under the Big Top to delight audiences of all ages, abilities, and income levels in the years to come.”

(Updated February 13, 2017)


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