Provincetown Performers Demand: Cirque Stay Away!

Tuesday February 4, 2020

On January 30 it was reported that Cirque du Soleil plans on setting up a tent in Provincetown for the summer, but the response against it has been swift and blunt.

Cirque — stay away, demand members of the town's entertainment community.

"A company calling itself 66 Days LLC agreed on Jan. 23 to pay the town recreation commission $150,000 to rent Motta Field for the summer of 2020," reported reported the Provincetown Independent. "Sources at Seashore Point and town hall confirmed that the field will in fact be rented to Cirque du Soleil, founded in 1983 in Quebec and now grown into a global entertainment business."

Cirque would come to Provincetown in early June with plans for "townie" nights on June 30 and July 1.

"Eric Martin, event coordinator for the entertainment group, has been meeting with abutters, town officials, and the Provincetown Recreation Commission for weeks, though Martin himself refused to confirm any of this, and referred only to an 'event' in the public meeting that the Independent attended," the Independent report continued.

"Martin remained mum when questioned directly. He explained that signed legal agreements prevent anyone from releasing details until everything is finalized."

Town officials also signed non-disclosure agreements "pending a public announcement tentatively scheduled for a Feb. 10 select board meeting, according to a town official. This is an unusual arrangement in Provincetown history; the company has kept its name out of the public eye even while appearing before public boards such as the recreation commission."

The locals aren't having any of it. In a letter, released by publicist Tom Fervoy today, more than 70 members of the town's entertainment community voiced opposition to the plans.

"As longtime venue operators, producers, technicians and performers who helped build Provincetown to be a thriving entertainment destination each summer for LGBT and straight audiences alike, we are asking you not to approve this initiative. Not only would it hurt our businesses financially, but also we are concerned that bringing 'corporate' entertainment to Provincetown would hurt the town's unique reputation," reads the letter.

"It feels like a huge slap in the face that the town we have given so much to would move forward with Cirque du Soleil without considering the financial ramifications for all of us. We also believe it also opens the doors for further corporate infiltration that could displace local restaurants, retailers, etc and turn Provincetown into a 'generic' destination," the letter continues.

They also objected to the process town officials have used in vetting the event.

"We also greatly object to the veil of secrecy established by the fact that prominent Provincetown officials (including but not limited to the Director of Tourism, the Assistant Director of Tourism, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, the Executive Director of the Provincetown Business Guild and a board member of the Visitor Services Board) willingly signed non-disclosure agreements with Eric Martin/Cirque du Soleil which deliberately kept everyone else in the dark for several months. After so many years of being a part of this community we feel that our local representatives had an obligation to share this information with us so that we could be a part of this crucial conversation.

"On a final note we strongly believe that Eric Martin, Cirque du Soleil, and their sworn-to-secrecy supporters have grossly overstated the financial benefits to Provincetown and have not taken into account the devastating effects this initiative will have on the community's beloved artists, small theatre companies and local cabaret rooms."

Amongst the signatures of the letter are Mark Cortale, Producing Artistic Director, The Art House; performers Jeff Roberson aka Varla Jean Merman, Russ King aka Miss Richfield 1981, Zoe Lewis, Gavin Creel, Judy Gold, Margaret Cho, Seth Rudetsky, Marilyn Maye, Billy Stritch, Clinton Leupp aka Miss Coco Peru, Melissa Ferrick, and members of Well-Strung, Unitard, and BETTY.

"The issue reverberates widely for many in the locale's heralded entertainment scene," writes Fervoy in a press release. "When Travel & Leisure magazine named Provincetown America's #1 Beach Town in 2016, they singled out the destination's nightlife for featuring Broadway stars and drag shows. The community and local press have in the past risen to the defense of its local theaters, and the entertainment they provide - singers, drag acts, film, live theater - are all seen as a quintessential part of Provincetown's character as a unique destination."

The letter was sent to Provincetown Select Board on February 3.