Published on March 30th, 2022 | by Isabelle Karamooz, Founder of FQM0
French Quarter Magazine’s Interview with Daniel Lamarre, the former CEO of the Cirque du Soleil
When I interviewed Daniel Lamarre in October 2021, the former CEO of the Cirque du Soleil and current Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board at Cirque du Soleil, the Cirque was about to reopen the beautiful KA show in the MGM Grand after being dark due to the global pandemic. Ka is their lastest show on the Strip. I asked him why the Cirque du Soleil’s ticket sales are double digits higher than before Covid. We also discussed the new shareholders of Cirque du Soleil after escaping bankruptcy and the company’s involvement in the global water crisis.
How do you explain this resurgence?
I always thought during the crisis that when the patrons will have the opportunity to go back to live shows that there will be an additional demand for the shows and that’s exactly what we have observed. The people have been restricted for so many months from attending live shows that when we reopened, it was almost like a movement of sympathy for the Cirque du Soleil company’s revival.
Did the striking marketing campaign including “The Sun Rises Again,” and “Intermission Is Over” to celebrate the return and with a quality/price ratio (price-performance ratio) that is considered appealing helped to the dazzling success of ticket sales?
I think we have been able to create a momentum by the return of Cirque and also our artists in their own capacity have been communicating the news to everybody and the entire MGM casino has been behind us supporting the marketing. We have been very very successful creating momentum, which is ongoing. We see it every time we open a show. It happened when we reopened Michael Jackson One and the Beatles LOVE shows.
How has the pandemic affected the Cirque’s operations? What adaptations have been made in order to stay in business? When one become a world-class entertainment company such as Cirque du Soleil, how do you preserve your creativity?
Oh, very much, so that was a huge nightmare for us. We ended up in 48 hours passing from forty shows around the world to zero shows, meaning zero revenue. That was a huge catastrophe for Cirque and I am so happy to say that despite the fact that we had zero revenues, we have been able to attract new shareholders that believed in the strength of this global brand. It says a lot because that was the only thing that we had when we shut down all of our shows, all that was remaining was a global brand but that brand was so huge that people were willing to invest the money to ensure the revival of Cirque du Soleil.
So, Cirque emerged from creditor protection in both U.S. and Canada with a new ownership group, Catalyst Capital, right?
Catalyst Capital is one of our main shareholders but there are altogether about 40 shareholders owning a share of the company, but the main one are Catalyst and Gabriel de Alba who is the co-chairman of the board and the other co-chairman of the board is James Murren, the former CEO of MGM who is great for us. We also have on the board of director Cory Sanders who is the CEO of MGM, so we have tightened our relationship with MGM which is great for the future of this company because they are, by far our most important shareholder.
The Cirque brand is a dream for generations all over the world; it is a dream for aspiring artists and performers worldwide to join. There is also the social program called Cirque du Monde… is it still accurate?
We have two major causes that we support. The first is Cirque du Monde which is an organization that helps youth at risk in many municipalities around the world. The second we founded about 15 years ago, the One Drop Foundation. Its goal is to help resolve the water problems in the world. In Las Vegas we’re doing a big event called “One Night for One drop” every year to raise money for this amazing cause. Those two charitable causes are going to continue to support for the foreseeable future.
One Drop Foundation was created in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil and a keen poker player. Let’s talk about the inspiration behind this water charity, the various projects around the world and the the impact that Mr Laliberté hopes to have on the global water crisis over the next decades.
First of all, you are right in saying that One Drop was been founded by Guy but co-founded by Cirque du Soleil, so we were there from day one in the creation of One Drop. Guy has paid for the administration of the foundation with his own money which is unusual because it means that every dollar that we raise goes to projects to promote water. Our foundation is active in a lot of different countries around the world where we do two things, basically we first do help very poor community to get drinking water through very specific tools that we provide to a community in order to supply them with the right type of water and we also have another form which is educational. We create some art activities in some other communities in order to sensitize people about the importance of taking care of water because we know that in privileged countries like ours, there is a lot of waste of water and it is something that we want the people and the young people in particular to understand that water is a natural resource that is not unlimited and that is something we do as well.