January 2021

While the pandemic has caused many to declare 2020 the worst year ever, and for many it was, all of us at CAC are trying to focus on the good things that happened.  As far as our own organization is concerned, we are inordinately proud of how we’ve managed to survive thus far, and how much we are able to accomplish. There have been as many silver linings as there have been sorrows – both on the world stage and on our smaller ones.  That being said, the decision we share with you is one of the single most difficult we’ve ever had to make at The Circus Arts Conservatory. We are very sad to report that CAC must cancel its upcoming Big Top season including the 2021 Circus Arts Gala and Circus Sarasota 2021, the organizations most notable international performance program and largest income generators for the non-profit.  

Due to ongoing social distancing recommendations and the necessity for small crowd size, CAC anticipates it will be early 2022 before we can safely gather for events and performances Under the Big Top at Nathan Benderson Park again. The current guidelines combined with infrastructure required to produce Circus Sarasota and put up the Big Top are so complex that it is not financially feasible.  

“On behalf of our Board, the artistic and administrative teams, we are indeed upset that during this unprecedented uncertainty, the decision to cancel Circus Sarasota 2021 is not just a necessary and right step, it is the only step. As we were monitoring the COVID-19 crisis over these last several weeks, we considered the unpredictability of travel, the safety and comfort of our artists and patrons as well as the long term survival of our non-profit efforts.  It is clear that the institution cannot shoulder the projected financial burden due to the forecasted drop in ticket revenue. This unfortunate cancellation is necessitated by our ultimate goal to ensure that Circus Sarasota continues to inspire audiences and artists for generations to come.” ~ Pedro Reis, CEO & Co-Founder.

As with many decisions being made during the pandemic, we realize that ours adds another devastating blow, not just to the artists who depend on this performance program to make money, and the vendors we pay to provide services, but to the people who look forward to the magic of Circus Sarasota Under the Big Top each year. Sadly, it simply cannot be helped. We must put the health, safety and well being of people as well as ensure the long term sustainability of our non-profit organization preserving Sarasota’s international legacy of Circus Arts .  

For the team and artists who create our events and performances under the big top, this is particularly heartbreaking because producing the Circus is also a labor of love that brings great joy to many each year. There is an energy at the Circus as the tent begins to open and the public starts to pour in that is like happiness condensed. It comes from families slowly making their way through the big top, eating popcorn or cotton candy together being swept away to a magical destination. It comes from volunteers, who come back every year, and greet folks with a smile.  It comes from rousing applause, laughter, whistling, singing along, dancing and swaying, even hoots and hollers – all highly encouraged and essential to a great Circus experience. Yes, we will have this much fun together again – just not as soon as we’d all like!   

We will miss this energy. We will miss being a part of this experience under the big top together, and yes, we will even miss the fresh lemonade and popcorn. But we made this decision to ensure that we all remain healthy and able to enjoy all these wonderful experiences at next year’s 25th Anniversary of Circus Sarasota in 2022.  

“I’m deeply saddened that Circus Sarasota, recognized around the world for the annual professional performances, will be dark this winter for the first time in its history.  We share a common feeling of profound disappointment about this necessary cancellation with so many of our colleagues currently in the arts sector.  Difficult as this is now, Circus Sarasota, and The Circus Arts Conservatory will emerge from this challenging moment to celebrate 25 years of world class circus artistry at Circus Sarasota 2022 in this uniquely idyllic place of Sarasota” ~ Dolly Jacobs-Reis, VP & Co-Founder.

While this is an unfortunate and unavoidable setback for our annual budget and operations, the CAC is NOT on hiatus from serving our community in profound ways.  We have used our time during the pandemic to reimagine and redevelop how our performance, training and education programs can reach a larger and more diverse audience. The Board of Directors, Executive Team and Staff are committed to ensuring that the CAC remains a vital cultural asset to the Southwest Florida region.  Stay tuned for more information about Circus Arts programs at our Sailor Circus Arena and within the community.  We are grateful to our sponsors, community partners and vendors whose partnership we value deeply.  

Stay Calm & Circus On! 

Statement written on behalf of CAC by Jennifer Mitchell, Executive VP / COO