Photo by Lauren.

The Big Apple Circus, which sets up shop in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park every year, won’t be back this Christmas. The circus ran out of money and its appeal for donations fell short.

The nonprofit circus has been operating since the 70’s and putting on its holiday show since 1981. It was known for charitable work, the New York Times noted.

“Despite its reputation and position in the city’s cultural firmament, many New Yorkers never realized that unlike Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, which is run by an entertainment conglomerate, the Big Apple is a nonprofit institution. Begun by the creative, well-educated vagabonds Paul Binder and Michael Christensen in the 1970s, the circus was founded with a Robin Hood spirit that some families would pay full price; those lacking the means would pay nothing.

Over the years, the organization went further, holding special performances for blind, deaf and autistic children. It also started to run community programs — sending vaudeville acts to nursing homes and clowns to hospitals to amuse very sick children. (With the $900,000 raised and money from foundations and corporations targeted specifically for those programs, the community work will continue.)”

It’s not yet clear if Lincoln Center will contact with another show to take its place (though the community has been agitating for Damrosch Park to have fewer paid events).

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Eddie says:

      Too bad. I took one of my kids once and really enjoyed it. Trump could have gotten some good PR by using some of his alleged billions to help out.

    2. Cato says:

      Next: Luxury hi-rise condos on the Damrosch Park site!

      This is (yet another) loss for the neighborhood. Sorry to see you go.

    3. Sean says:

      This circus was kept alive by corporate sponsors namely big banks. Every season blocks of tickets were set aside for employee family holiday parties with big name catering companies participating. Overtime ticket sales have dwindled because a circus just isn’t that popular anymore. Tastes change. And the animals were treated OK but they were still in a circus. I know because I worked several of these events. The clowns as a group were insane and the highlight of the evening backstage was always when the elephant would poop.

    4. Joe Rappaport says:

      I’m sorry to see the circus close. I watched the PBS series about it — fascinating. And by the way, there were no elephants or big cats in the Big Apple Circus. Only domesticated animals.

      • A says:

        They used to have elephants at the Big Apple Circus – got rid of them a couple of years ago.

        I’ve been taking my kids for years over the holiday break and it was always something they looked forward to. Its a shame to see another long standing institution go. We contributed to their drive, but I guess not enough folks cared.

    5. Big Earl says:

      I’m surprised it closed down. They needed to raise $2 million dollars. With all the big fat cats that live around here, I’m blown away none of them stepped up to the plate and saved the circus. I’m sure many of them visited the circus over the years with their children. It’s sad a holiday tradition that lasted 35yrs can disappear so easily. But ain’t that the same story being told over and over with businesses on the UWS.

    6. MC says:

      Good riddens. Hate to see animals in captivity for show. Always wondered how on earth that circus stayed alive

    7. Kid says:

      I always loved the Big Apple Circus. I remember last year my little cousin came and she rode the ponies. She had the time of her life. I’m 11 and have been going there since I was 2 with my Grandma and my family every year. It truly is going to be sad to see it go.

    8. Paul Arents says:

      I guess “Grandma” shouldn’t have retired.

    9. Sean says:

      Is this not a public park regardless of the season? Why was it rented out as a venue? Isn’t the complaint leveled that was leveled at Fashion Week? Was this circus not a business or was it a non-profit? What amount of cash if any did the circus turn back after each season for restoration of the park?

      • Mark says:

        Questioning mind, huh!

        Who are you asking?

        • Sean says:

          All y’all!

          • dannyboy says:

            OK, since it is a group project, I’ll beging in the name of “Community”:

            Q1:Sean asked the question -“Is this not a public park regardless of the season?”

            A1 YES

            others can jump in at their convenience

          • Mark says:

            I’ll take a Question! (Was this circus not a business or was it a non-profit?)

            a non-profit organization

            Extra Credit Answer is that In 1981, the circus began performing at Damrosch Park of Lincoln Center for the first time. Its winter season has been at Damrosch Park ever since. In 1982, the circus won a silver medal at a circus performing competition held in Paris.