The Art of Managing Lions, Clowns and a Pandemic – New European College
First Dutch University in Bavaria
9. September 2020
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2. October 2020

The Art of Managing Lions, Clowns and a Pandemic

Project Week: Munich Students Look at How One Circus Survived COVID-19 while Another Went Bankrupt.

When the world’s most famous circus, Cirque de Soleil, filed for bankruptcy in June after COVID-19 paralysed the entertainment industry, it was impossible to imagine other circuses would survive without audiences. Yet, German-based Circus Krone defied the odds in  ingenious ways that made international headlines. Students at Wittenborg’s partner institute in Munich, New European College, studied the effect of COVID-19 on the circus entertainment industry as part of the first Project Week of the new academic year.

The Show Must Go On!

So how did Circus Krone, which according to its own definition is the world’s largest “classical” circus, survive? Given the fact that like others in the entertainment industry they were subject to  Germany’s strict regulations which did not allow audiences to gather. in Germany of no audiences.

After being forced to cancel all their events, they had to come up with creative solutions. And they did. The moment the restrictions were lifted a bit they started a drive-in car wash with clowns and also opened their animal farm for visitors. But the absolute highlight of their strategy was opening a pop-up store selling lion poop at €5 a jar.  For those in the dark, apparently lion droppings are supposed to ward of neighbours’ cats from entering your garden. As crazy as it sounds this pro-active public relation stunt made it into the local, national and even the international press.

NEC managing director, Sascha Liebhardt, says in times of crisis it is essential that students gain thorough knowledge of leadership, crisis management and pro-active marketing in order to ensure their future employability. “One of the underlying goals of the Project Weeks at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences is to expose students to real-life current business cases during their studies and not after,” Liebhardt says.

Bachelor, Master and MBA students participated in the project which required them to analyse the consequences of the corona pandemic on the circus entertainment industry at national and international level. They also looked at how different circuses reacted to the situation and what management recommendations can be developed based on research and the application of academic models and research.

As a start they were introduced to two opposing case studies: the bankruptcy of Cirque du Soleil and the creative solutions of Circus Krone to the Corona restrictions.

WUP 25/9/2020
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press