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Continued: Fighting with St. Paul, Circus Juventas hunts for new home

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 26, 2014 - 6:32 AM

There are no elephants, no red-nose clowns in this circus. The focus is on the elaborate stunts that kid acrobats learn on trapeze and high wire, which are eventually knit together into costumed productions of theater quality.

Rehearsals are winding down this week for the biggest show of the year, “Neverland,” which opens Friday and ends Aug. 17.

According to the school’s latest available tax forms, the nonprofit took in $2.2 million in 2012-13 and showed expenses totaling $2.1 million, including $1.2 million in salaries (the Butlers together were paid about $270,000). The school gets about 40 percent of its revenue from performances, another 40 percent from tuition and 15 percent from donors.

Butler said the school would launch a $4 million campaign if it stayed at the current site, including $2 million for expansion, $1 million for an endowment and $1 million for exterior repairs and maintenance. He said naming rights would be part of a $10 million campaign to build a new facility, which would have a thrust theater with a capacity of 2,000.

In the meantime, the school’s board has set up a facilities planning committee and will hold an open forum in September to answer questions and get feedback from Circus Juventas families and interested parties, Butler said.

He praised the city’s longtime partnership with the school, but he didn’t disguise his disappointment over the failure to reach a resolution.

“What we were hoping is that they would embrace the uniqueness of what we’re doing here and that Circus Juventas would become synonymous with Highland Park the way the zoo is with Como Park,” Butler said.

“I’m concerned that, heck, if the same people were around back then, they would have said ‘no’ and we’d never have a zoo or conservatory because it didn’t fit with the plan.”


Kevin Duchschere • 651-925-5035


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  • The Circus Juventas Youth Performing Arts Circus facility in St. Paul.

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