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No Cirque for Provincetown — Town Officials Point Fingers

Thursday Feb 13, 2020
No Cirque for Provincetown — Town Officials Point Fingers
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The recent battle over a Cirque du Soleil show coming to Provincetown this summer ended with the entertainment giant pulling back from bringing a show in the summer resort. The public debate began when it was reported that town officials had been secretly working to bring the Cirque show to the town. When the news was leaked, the locals pushed back.

"The performing group from Montreal was creating a custom show for Motta Field in Provincetown (with no tent) based on the story of the Pilgrims landing in Provincetown for the 400th Anniversary marking of the event," reads a post on the website ptownie.com.

The Provincetown Independent contacted Cirque last week and their spokesperson Sophie Desbiens said: "This decision to not go forward with the project was made after going through our regular feasibility evaluation and prior to that coming out in the news. The reaction of the community and the infighting is really unfortunate, however, it did not influence our decision as we had made it before all of this came out."

This account differs from the timeline that suggested public outcry led to Cirque pulling out. Whatever the reason, the fallout continued this week at Monday night's Select Board meeting when various board members blamed board member Lise King of leaking the story to the Independent "that the town recreation commission had signed an agreement to lease Motta Field to the circus for the entire summer for $150,000."

In a report in today's Independent, various board members hit back on the anti-Cirque forces.

"'The recent Provincetown Independent story questioning a Cirque du Soleil summer residency," said Select Board Member John Golden," the Independent reports 'created a backlash that was so negative that the town of Provincetown, its businesses, and many nonprofits here lost potential revenue of over $1.5 million. Promoting hit pieces in local media is not an acceptable way to run a town and I for one have had enough of this lack of respect for this board and our role in town government.

"Board Member Robert Anthony agreed. So many people worked very diligently and very hard for what I believe is a good thing for this community,'" Anthony said."

The plan to bring a Cirque show to Provincetown was spearheaded by Truro resident Eric Martin, who posted a lengthy timeline of process on ptownie.com, claiming that the protest was "based on false information including the accusation of secrecy." Select board members signed non-confidentiality agreements during the process.

"Martin's company, 66Days LLC, which he formed in November 2019, had been negotiating with the commission for the rental of Motta Field, a large grassy park on a quiet hill, since September of last year. The fact that negotiations had been proceeding in secret was a sore point for many people who objected to the plans. Martin told the Independent that details of the plan could not be divulged because of non-disclosure agreements," .

"Unfortunately, there is no possibility for this once in a 400-year opportunity to happen in Provincetown. That ship has sailed and is beyond the horizon," Martin writes.

"For all of you interested, confused, concerned, and wrapped up in conspiracy theories as to why 66DaysLLc did not share the benefits including the months of planning with the public, the answer is simple. The process required confidentiality until the Long Form Agreement and second deposit was signed. As you can see from the timeline outlined above, this was days away from happening and a public release was weeks away from happening. Unfortunately, all of the parties mentioned above were aware of this and chose to ignore our fact-based explanations which created confusion and negative public outcry."

"King disputed the accusation that she had leaked information to reporters," writes the Independent. "She told her colleagues at Monday's meeting that an Independent reporter asked her about rumors of the circus coming to town. She told the reporter that she heard about it at a dinner party. She then forwarded to the reporter a text message from Martin in which he stated he could 'not commit or deny that the show is going to happen.'

"Independent Editor Edward Miller said Tuesday: 'We had been hearing stories about Cirque du Soleil coming to Provincetown from multiple sources since December. We reported the agreement between Eric Martin and the Provincetown Recreation Commission because it was signed in a public meeting. It is wrong to blame anyone for 'leaking' the story and to use that as an excuse for barring town officials from talking to reporters — an alarming development at this point in history.'"

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