CWB – USA’s scope is growing. From 2015 to 2018, our audience doubled in size. Each year we steadily increase the number of workshops, performances, and people served. It’s exciting to see that outcome, but it is not our goal.
If we only planned tours with year-end totals in mind, we would fail to reach some of the most vulnerable communities. Our programming is responsive to the invitations we receive. So while I have a pretty good idea of where we’ll tour this year, there’s a lot of flexibility. What I do know is that in January 2020, I will evaluate my work based on these five goals:
Programming reflects the differing types and causes of displacement.
What do you think of when you think “refugee?” A camp with tents? A group of people who all look the same? A certain continent? Displacement is complex. CWB – USA tries to respond to many different types of displacement. Maybe that means communities experiencing generations of internal displacement, within their own country. Or maybe it means people who have survived an environmental disaster or epidemic. Or people who are displaced because of war, politics, and economics.
This year, on our project page, we will make sure to identify what type of displacement or marginalization our audience has experienced or is experiencing.
Artists feel connected to, and supported by, CWB both on and off tour.
CWB exists because of the generosity of our professional artists. We as an organization want to make sure they’re supported and celebrated. On tour, that includes securing comfortable accommodation, enough meal time, a day off, etc. Off tour, that might look like hosting trainings and workshops, creating media, connecting artists to speaking engagements, transparent administration, and sending birthday cards.
Build diversity in performing teams.
It is important that our performing teams—and organization as a whole—reflect the diversity of our audiences and the world. Part of the strategy for this year is to always work with local artists, actively recruit and support new artists, and collaborate with other chapters from Clowns Without Borders International.
Each tour includes a non-performing team member.
Who holds the car keys? Who keeps track of the money? Who checks in with our host at each location? Who collects audience feedback? Who keeps in touch with the office or local media? Often, these jobs fall to the (performing) team leader. Unsurprisingly, when we have a non-performing team member those tasks can be shared and delegated, so the tour is less stressful for everyone.
Generate professional media from each tour.
How do we share our work with the world? We see a strong correlation between tours with a non-performing team member and tours with great media. Conversely, some tours return with only a handful of blurry photos to document the experience. Our primary audience will always be the displaced people who attend our live performances, but we also want to share our work globally. This means that we will hire local photographers and filmmakers whenever possible, and spend more time reaching out to media contacts.
Ideas? Questions? Comments? Email us at info[at]clownswithoutborders[dot]org!