‘Circus will never die’: Big-top director hopeful for life after lockdown
- Credit: Circus Ginnett
The director of a historic local circus, named one of the country’s oldest, is thrilled to be reopening his big top after being forced shut due to coronavirus.
Like many entertainers across the UK, Circus Ginnett based at Tilney St Lawrence was hit hard by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent series of lockdowns.
However, director Patrick Austin says they kept themselves busy by working on their show through training, circus maintenance and “watching the pennies”.
In some good news amongst the bad, Mr Austin, along with circuses across the country, will be allowed to reopen this month following Government guidance.
Circus Ginnett is coming to March at the Priory Golf Centre from Wednesday, May 19 until Sunday, May 23, putting on eight Covid-safe shows.
Mr Austin said: “We are no longer able to have an interval in the show, so we have had to reduce our prices and will be having a one-hour none-stop fun-filled show.
“It features clowns Mr Fips and Clown Jerry, hula hoops, motorcycle trapeze and much more... oh and don’t forget Vader the Wonder Dog.”
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With a reduced capacity, the circus will look slightly different from normal; with hand sanitizers, one-way systems and a side wall which must be left open.
Despite running at half capacity, Circus Ginnett have decided to donate all ticket sale profits from their opening nights to NHS Charities Together.
They will also be allowing all NHS badge holders in to their show free of charge.
“We love and are extremely proud of the NHS here at Circus Ginnett and feel privileged for this opportunity to give a little back,” said Mr Austin.
Speaking of the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Austin said: “Lockdown has been tough for us as it has for everyone, but we survived and are ready to open.
“During lockdown we ran a fitness and wellbeing live stream every week on our Facebook page.
“Headed by my wife Lisandra, from Cuba, along with Mr Fips the clown and Jenny.
“Lisandra’s main goal was helping to keep kids and families fit and healthy with indoor exercise, whilst Mr Fips entertained with his crazy antics and Jenny gave hula hoop classes.”
Despite businesses being offered grants and loans from the Government during the pandemic, Mr Austin says Circus Ginnett “didn’t qualify” for any help.
He said: “I suspect we didn’t qualify because we had baby in 2017, so did not tour with our own show for 2018 and 2019.
“We are only a small family-run circus and have to do everything ourselves including booking the rout, publicity, putting the big top up and down, moving everything place to place, even taking our rubbish away, not to mention the performing in the shows.
“So we decided not to tour for two years, but then could not open in 2020 because Covid and the first lockdown!
“All of this meant that we did not qualify for any grant or help.
“Which is a shame because we are now supporting the NHS charities together! We will be donating all profits from our opening night at each venue we visit.”
Mr Austin previously spoke to this newspaper about his beloved circus, saying “Please don’t let lockdown be the death of the circus”.
He is now feeling more optimistic, he said: “Circus will never die. Circus started in England nearly 300 years ago and will still be going in another 300.
“However as, one of the UKs oldest touring circuses, it would have been nice to have gotten a little help, even if we did pause for two years to focus on out baby Logan.”
Mr Austin says they plan to get baby Logan involved in the show at some point in the near future; “when it suits him anyway,” he added.
“Come along, have some fun at Circus Ginnett whilst helping support the NHS charities together at the same time!
“It's a fantastic charity with 241 NHS charity members including: Mental health trust, Ambulance trust, Community health trusts and health boards across the UK.
“Circus Ginnett is one of the oldest family circuses touring in the UK. This year’s fabulous cast will guarantee to entertain and amaze you.”
Wednesday’s show is from 6.30pm, shows on Thursday and Friday are at 5pm and 7pm, on Saturday its 2pm and 5pm and Sunday’s show is at 12pm.