Non-Profit Big Apple Circus Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

by San Antonio Attorney

The Big Apple Circus, a non-profit organization that entertains audiences and poor children, sought for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code on Nov. 20 after years of waning interest in private performances, clowns and circuses.

The organization intends to sell its assets and permanently stop most operations unless a backer comes along to resume its yearly ring show, a court filing shows.

The group did not perform for season 2016-17.

Michael Christensen and Paul Binder founded the group in 1977 to set up a performing circus and training, as stated on the bankruptcy filing.

The group’s peak was in 2008 when it performed over 350 shows in different locations across the United States. Big Apple Circus gave countless of free tickets yearly to low-income kids and families, had programs for kids who were blind, deaf and autistic, and provided clown amusement to hospitals.

Big Apple Circus stated $3.8 million in assets and $8.3 million in debts.

The appeal for private circus performances generated the majority of its revenue. Will Weiss, the group’s executive director, said in a court filing that Big Apple Circus suffered enormous loss in the past few years. This year, the income fell 40% even as expenditures grew.

The group also brought up the formation of a rival in June that stole its sales from its long-time outreach program in hospitals.

The bankruptcy plan gives a chance to resume the yearly rings show if the group finds a financial backer or new owner, Weiss said.

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