In recent years and in certain sectors (like newspapers) there has been a trend where for-profits have become nonprofits shifting their business models from singularly market and consumer driven to philanthropically supported. But the Big Apple Circus, in an effort to keep alive a tradition, history and some profess, an art form, has, originally birthed as a nonprofit, resurrected as a for-profit. There is a belief by the owners that there remains a market, true one that was not believed to have been fully tapped by the nonprofit AND there are more efficiencies to be found and all without the benefits of a nonprofit status.
According to the new owners:
the for-profit setup is changing how the company looks at its operations. Executives won’t reveal budget figures, but say that while they are investing heavily in the show itself, they are finding ways to trim costs behind the scenes.
In particular, Mr. Kahanovitz said the company is focusing on its procurement expenses, looking at “everything from toilet paper to feeder cable.” (from Wall Street Journal).
Could it be that efficiency was just not something the nonprofit version was able to conceive? Taking it a step further, does philanthropic support discourage efficiency? I'm thinking quite the contrary with the knowledge that many of the nonprofit managers I know go above and beyond in maximizing the use of every kernel of a resource toward mission. Can a for-profit do it better just because it's a for-profit? I'm dubious but can be optimistic in the short-run.
I do wonder though that setting-up a museum that features circus acts (think Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) might not have been a better model for preserving all that is indeed good about the circus.