Artists claim Cirque owes nearly $1M in unpaid contract work

Around 60 contract workers at Cirque du Soleil claim they haven’t been paid for services provided before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, totaling nearly $1 million in unpaid bills.

In an open letter to the media on Wednesday (the letter appears below, translated from the original French via Google Translate), the Regroupement des Artisans des Arts du Cirque (RAAC) estimates that the average unpaid bill stands at around $16,000. For several of the artists, that number represents a significant portion of their yearly income.

According to the RAAC’s letter, the self-employed workers are acrobats, directors, scenographers, choreographers, technical or artistic directors as well as numerous technicians. “More than 50 per cent of the artists we represent have worked at Cirque du Soleil for more than 10 years, and for nearly 75 per cent of them, Cirque du Soleil is their main client,” RAAC says.

Letters have also been sent to elected officials, including the Minister of Economic Development, Pierre Fitzgibbon, since the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has shares in the business. The artists want their request to be heard “and to obtain a commitment from (Cirque du Soleil) regarding the payment of these claims,” the letter reads.

The letter appears below…

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At Cirque du Soleil, the contribution of contract artisans is essential
The RAAC team at Cirque du Soleil*

Cirque du Soleil (CDS) owes nearly a million dollars to certain contract artisans. Sixty of them have a claim for work done before the COVID-19 crisis. The Regroupement des Artisans des Arts du Cirque du CDS (RAAC) represents this group and wishes to be heard and obtain a commitment from CDS regarding the payment of these claims.

Since the beginning of the crisis that is currently shaking Cirque du Soleil, a large group of individuals has seen their personal finances dramatically affected by it: contractual artisans.

We are talking here about artists, acrobats, directors, scenographers, choreographers, composers, lighting designers, production directors, creative directors, technical directors, executive producers, technicians, coordinators, etc. who have either self-employed or self-employed status. small business.

It is important to emphasize that without the contribution of these craftsmen to the process of creation and production of Cirque du Soleil shows and events, it would never have reached the artistic heights and the international reputation that we know and recognizes him today.

In concert with the 4,700 regular employees who were laid off in the wake of the pandemic that forced the CDS to cease all activities, contract artisans represent the lifeblood of this flagship of the Quebec and Canadian cultural industry.

That said, and fortunately for them, permanent employees can benefit from employment insurance.

It is different for contract artisans.

In addition to the loss of contract, which is an immediate consequence of the cessation of CDS activities, you should know that almost sixty of these craftsmen have a claim with CDS for work carried out before the COVID crisis- 19. The total sum of these receivables totals almost a million dollars.

More than 50% of the artisans we represent have worked at Cirque du Soleil for more than 10 years, and for almost 75% of them it is their main client. The average of their individual debt is around $ 16,000.

In the current context where the CDS is studying several scenarios to get out of this crisis – which we now understand had started well before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – we believe that this grouping makes sense.

Our first action consisted in claiming from CDS management the reimbursement of the sums due to us. If not at the very least, get a commitment from them to honor this debt once the current crisis has subsided. We also pointed out the importance of the work of the contract artisans and insisted that their contribution is essential, even vital, to ensure the sustainability of Cirque du Soleil.

Our request unfortunately remained a dead letter.

RAAC firmly believes in the revival of Cirque du Soleil. Our members are ready to contribute. But our motivation will be all the greater if the current or future managers of Cirque du Soleil recognize our existence and the relevance of our complaints.

In addition, when new investors are sought to ensure the resumption of this great company, we would like to remind them that the agility and sustainability of it rest largely on the shoulders of its contractual craftsmen.

* We emphasize that this grouping concerns only the craftsmen of Cirque du Soleil.

{ SOURCE: Montreal CTV News and LeDevoir