Naomi and Sarah smile at the camera as they stand on a green lawn

Better Together

CWB – USA board member and CWBI representative Sarah Liane Foster writes about this year’s General Assembly.

Why Does CWBI Hold a General Assembly?

The 2019 Clowns Without Borders International General Assembly was a smashing success, bringing together representatives from each CWB chapter for three busy days of planning, connections, and reflections.

Clowns Without Borders USA is one of 15 Clowns Without Borders chapters around the world. Each chapter has its own projects, budget, and way of working, but we’re all part of Clowns Without Borders International. We share a common purpose, as well as statutes and a code of ethics. CWBI facilitates communication and collaborations between chapters, so that we can all work more efficiently and share resources and best practices. The Board of CWBI is made up of one representative from each chapter, and I have had the honor of being CWB – USA’s International Representative for the past few years.

Here is a video about CWBIthat we made at the 2017 General Assembly. It gives you a sense of the amazing people who make up our organization.

Our 2019–2020 Priorities

This year the GA was hosted by the Swedish chapter, Clowner utan Gränser-Sweden. CWBI representatives from around the world flew into Stockholm and took a bus out to the Swedish countryside. We headed for a summer camp, which the Swedish government provides so that city kids can spend time in the country each year. How great!

Once we arrived, we rearranged some dining hall tables into a big square and the meetings began. We accomplish so much at these in-person meetings—business is addressed and we reestablish personal connections leading to wonderful collaborations between chapters during the year. Last year, CWB – USA collaborated with sister chapters Clowns sans Frontieres (CWB France) and Palhaços sem Fronteiras (CWB Brazil), and we have exciting shared programming on the horizon for 2019.

As the Secretary General of Clowner utan Gränser put it during an exciting (really!) discussion of CWBI’s 2019 budget, the collaborations that have come out of CWBI have been invaluable. On a practical note, without our inter-organizational collaborations, the costs of running programs without collaborations would be much higher. In 2018, 13 joint projects were led by CWB chapters in nine different countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Mexico. (Read more about these collaborations, and CWBI’s work in 2018, in our Annual Report!) On these tours, we shared artistic and administrative practices, improved cost efficiency, and decreased our environmental impact.

Some other highlights of this GA:

  • We had some great discussions around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a big priority for us.
  • We shared recent and future impact assessments that chapters are conducting around their programming. This is important for improving the quality of our work, and showing to potential funders.
  • We Skyped with Rupesh, the leader of a wonderful group of artists in the process of applying to join CWBI as CWB India!
  • We formed several working groups for the 2019–2020 year. One will consolidate resources from each chapter so we can more easily share with each other.

Huzzah for sharing, growing, and helping each other do our best work! We really are better together.

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