From June 19 to 30, Cirque du Soleil is coming to town again with a new show, Bazzar, under the Big Top Tent at The Parks at New Biel, Beirut. Solicet, the event company bringing the famous spectacle, anticipates a crowd of around 17,000 people.
On that occasion, Communicate Levant sat down with Solicet’s managing partner Claude Tahchy, to learn more about the event industry in Lebanon.
How is the event industry doing in Lebanon?
It’s suffering, in all its types. We used to have two to three big corporate events every month, financed by multinational companies or brands, but the budgets are shrinking year after year and are now spent in other markets with high purchase power. Lebanon used to be the hub where these brands would launch most of their products. This is not the case anymore, as other markets in the region are becoming more flexible and open to new ideas without restrictions. As for the show business, Lebanon was always on the international show business map; we, at Solicet, with our new partnership with [Dubai-based regional entertainment management agency] Alchemy Project, are trying to link Lebanon to the shows coming to the region, like Cirque du Soleil Bazzar. However, taxes are becoming a big problem in Lebanon: 95% of the income comes from local ticketing, but around 35% of the gross revenue is paid between taxes and other variable charges.
What type of events are most successful?
Family shows are the most successful events in Lebanon. Class A artists are always a big success, but Lebanon is always on the warning travel list of a lot of embassies, so it is always hard to convince their management to come and perform in Beirut.
How is Cirque du Soleil received in Lebanon?
From the first show of Cirque Du Soleil, we created a strong database through Club Cirque [Cirque du Soleil’s membership-based online community]: people are becoming more interested in their shows and waiting yearly for their new creations, especially since, every time, Cirque du Soleil presents a new show with a new title and theme.
How would you describe the average attendance?
It all depends on the season, the type of shows we are bringing, the competition, and if there are festivals and events happening at the same time or not. Also, the ticket pricing is a factor that could affect the number of attendees.
What about the new show, Bazzar?
Cirque du Soleil’s Bazzar is an eclectic lab of infinite creativity where a joyful troupe of acrobats, dancers and musicians craft an awe-inspiring spectacle. Lead by their maestro, they band together to invent a whimsical one-of-a-kind universe. In a place where the unexpected is expected, the colorful group re-imagines, rebuilds and reinvents vibrant scenes in an artistic, acrobatic game of order and disorder.