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Big Apple Circus missing from Atlanta's 2011 lineup of circus season fun

Clowns like these are trying on their big shoes, ready to entertain Atlanta audiences during circus season 2011.
Clowns like these are trying on their big shoes, ready to entertain Atlanta audiences during circus season 2011.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Circuses are making their way to Atlanta with lots of acrobatics, tricks, trained animals, and awesome stunts.

But noticeably absent from Atlanta's 2011 lineup: The Big Apple Circus, which put on family-and-budget friendly shows last year in Stone Mountain and has been a venerable staple during circus season.

Yes, the cruel recession has even hit the circus industry pretty hard.

"The last two seasons have been challenging for everyone and the Big Apple Circus is not exempt from feeling the effects of the recession. The general decline in fundraising and ticket sales has led to operating deficits that diminish the company’s cash reserves. When combined with the general trend of financial institutions reducing the availability of credit, the company’s cash flow has been constrained," said Gary Dunning, Big Apple Circus executive director, in a statement.

Among Big Apple's moves in the lackluster economy: "Layoffs, wage reductions, and a re-engineering of the business model have brought the company’s operations from $22 million in 2008 to $17 million going into the coming season," Dunning said.

"Such a reduction requires many difficult choices and these included the cancellation of engagements in Atlanta, Georgia and Dulles, Virginia in the 2010-2011 season. Simply put, the company cannot afford to underwrite the losses incurred in these engagements this year," he said.

There's hope that the Big Apple Circus will be in a better position to bring its fun back to Atlanta someday: "We seek to return to both markets in the future and look forward to securing sponsorships and other partnerships that can help underwrite the cost of our world class productions in such a unique performance setting," Dunning said.

So, although Atlanta's circus options have dwindled, some other familiar circuses will be returning. Here’s what’s coming up in February and in the spring:

  • Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus comes to Philips Arena February 17-21, 2011 and to the Gwinnett Arena February 24-27, 2011 with its “FUNundrum,” described on the circus’s web site as a celebration of P.T. Barnum. Find out more at: http://www.ringling.com/
  • UniverSoul Circus, which was founded in Atlanta, will bring its lively and interactive thrills to town February 10-27, 2011 at Turner Field Green Lot, 521 Capitol Avenue. More info: www.universoulcircus.com/
  • Tarzan Zerbini Circus brings delight to Marietta’s Jim R. Miller Park, April 22- May 1, 2011. Go to www.circus2011.org for more information.