Raleigh, N.C. — Renowned acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil said Friday that it is canceling all of its shows in North Carolina because of the state's new law setting discrimination policy.
"Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form," the troupe said in a statement, calling the North Carolina law "an important regression to ensuring human rights for all."
House Bill 2, which was signed into law last month after a one-day special session of the legislature requires people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificates, excludes gays and transgender people from protections against employment and public accommodations discrimination and bars cities and counties from extending such protections to them.
Cirque du Soleil was scheduled to perform its OVO show in Greensboro April 20-24 and Charlotte July 6-10 and perform its TORUK – Avatar show in Raleigh June 22-26. Tickets bought online or over the phone will be refunded immediately, while in-person purchases must be returned to where they were bought for a refund.
"Cirque du Soleil believes in equality for all. It is a principle that guides us with both our employees and our customers. We behave as change agents to reach our ultimate goal of making a better world with our actions and our productions," the troupe said. "We sincerely hope that the customers that have purchased tickets for our performances in North Carolina will understand our motivation and we look forward to performing in North Carolina when this issue is addressed."
Davin Olsen, general manager of PNC Arena in Raleigh, said he couldn't estimate the loss from the cancelation.
"It’s a significant impact any time you lose a show. There is revenue attached to that, but I can’t quantify that right now," Olsen said.
A Cirque du Soleil spokesperson told WRAL News that an estimated $68,000 will be lost due to the cancelation in Greensboro.
Other performers, from Bruce Springsteen to Ringo Starr to Ani DeFranco, have also canceled performances in North Carolina because of the law.
Cirque du Soleil is the first HB2-related cancelation PNC Arena has seen, Olsen said.
"It’s unfortunate for the patrons that had bought tickets, but we have to respect the decision," he said. "Ultimately, it affects everyone who was working the show, coming to the show or had planned to be at the show. It’s disappointing, to say the least."
Chad Beltz, manager of Rudinos Sports Corner, said he's disappointed that the restaurant won't be able to benefit from the shows in town.
"Our business doubles during the evening if there is an event versus no event. [It] probably more than doubles," he said. "It's a shame that business, shows are leaving North Carolina because of the law."
Beltz said he worries more cancelations could be announced in North Carolina.
"I don't think it's going to be a positive thing," he said. "I think only negative can be drawn from it."