2001 Cultural Cultural

Guy Laliberté was born in Quebec in 1959. Accordion player, stilt walker, and fire-eater, Mr. Laliberté used his talents as a daring visionary to transform a small troupe of street entertainers—the Fête foraine de Baie-Saint- Paul—into the first internationally renowned Quebec circus.

A multi-faceted artist, Guy Laliberté quickly dove into the business world to plan and further the growth of this young company. In just 17 years, Cirque du Soleil has become a major cultural enterprise, respected and acclaimed by some 30 million people around the world. Over the years, the Cirque has diversified its activities into such varied areas as multimedia (audiovisual, musical publishing and production), publishing, and most recently, the development of entertainment complexes.

Inaugurated in 1997, the large Studio in the East of Montréal houses the company’s international headquarters and employs some 700 people. The Cirque has also set up four regional offices, in Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Singapore and Montréal.

Cirque du Soleil has staged shows in over 130 cities, including Tokyo, Hong-Kong, London, Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Biloxi, San Francisco and Las Vegas. It employs some 2,100 people of 40 diverse nationalities.

Guy Laliberté has helped elevate circus arts to the ranks of major artistic disciplines by blending cultures and acrobatic and artistic disciplines into what is today Cirque du Soleil’s trademark. He was also the guiding hand behind the team that has created every show since the company’s inception in 1984.

In January 2001, the Nice press awarded Cirque du Soleil a prize for the aerial contortion in silk act in its Quidam show during the 25th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo. In 1999, the banquine act in Quidam won the Golden Clown award at the same festival. And in 1998, the creators of the O show were honoured at the Entertainment Design Awards gala in New York.

Guy Laliberté’s managerial skills and ability to bring people together enabled Cirque du Soleil to, among other things, secure the necessary funding to develop its activities and to establish a major network of international partners. Mr. Laliberté is also one of the main creators of the “Cirque du Monde” program, developed in collaboration with Jeunesse du monde and Oxfam-Quebec. Launched in 1994, this program teaches circus arts to troubled youth while imbuing them with the perseverance, discipline, respect and mutual support required in circus arts.

A model for young entrepreneurs and one of the best known promoters of Quebec expertise abroad, Mr. Laliberté not surprisingly participates in most of the major business forums in the country. In 1997, his achievements earned him the Quebec government’s highest distinction, the Ordre national du Québec.