How is your clown club doing?
I talk to clowns around the country and I hear the same two different stories, all the time.
One is that their clown club is alive and growing; they have lots of events and are having plenty of fun.
The other is that their club is dying and no one shows up to do anything anymore.
Where did they go wrong?
The clown clubs that thrive have education. They use the talents of the clowns in the group to share their skills and love of clowning. BUT they also bring in outside education.
Don’t be afraid to bring in someone outside your club to teach a class at a monthly meeting. Look for a balloon artist, face painter, prop builder, or someone who does improv or theater games.
Host an event for your town!
Invite one of your favorite clown performers or lecturers to put on an education day for your club. Invite EVERYONE in the area, not just your regular clown members. Contact your local Community Education organization or Chamber of Commerce to see if they have resources to help you plan it or promote it.
Schedule time for social gathering before and after the classes so you can engage the new visitors and interest them in joining your club. Hosting events like these will help build morale in your club and earn you new members.
Education outside of your monthly meeting is important as well. Travel is a great way to build bonds in a group and have fun. Think about traveling to a regional workshop, national clown convention, or an extended camp or school.
Speaking from personal experience, the clubs which send a few members to my Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp always consider it time and money well-spent. They bring valuable information back to their club, which they are able to implement immediately.
New training refreshes an old club like a fountain in the desert. Folks may be hesitant to travel by themselves, but when a few gather together laughter and fun will follow! Make it a point to put the up-coming events on your meeting agenda so you don’t forget to plan. Collect information and discuss it at your meetings. Think about how you will raise the money. Don’t forget that there are scholarships available for most events; check them out: Moose Camp, COAI and WCA.
There are also independent clown conventions. I will be going to Clownfest in Seaside Heights New Jersey September 10-13. East coast clown clubs should come out the boardwalk and join the fun as a group. It’ll be good for you.
The club that plays together, stays together
Every year at the International COAI and WCA conventions I see groups of folks from clown clubs from all over the world! There are group skit competitions that clubs do together. Those folks are always having a ball! They are traveling together, gathering knowledge, and bringing it back to their clubs to share.
When you plan a performance, for competition or otherwise, something important happens inside your club structure.
You are all galvanized together with the same goal, the same enthusiasm. Even if your audience are just the relatives of your club members, plan a performance at least every few months. A simple line-up many groups use for a 20 minute show is: Intro, Skit, Magic, Juggle/Balloon, Skit, Exit (with jokes to buffer between the different acts).
Practice, practice, practice – but keep it fun!
When you think have a polished performance ready for the public, contact your local library, nursing home, church, or school to see if there is an opportunity to present it. Planning events like these not only gives your group more exposure, but it also solidifies your teamwork. It is a great chance to grow closer together as a club.
Have a public “face”
As mentioned before, you also need to be well-organized.
That includes having someone who is willing to be the contact person, or the public “face” of your club. This member will have their phone number and email addresses plastered on everything, give interviews, and send out press releases and advertisements. Basically, this is the go-to person when a non-clown has questions about joining or booking your club.
Make sure this person isn’t already loaded down with everything else that keeps the club afloat! You don’t want him/her to burn out fast and give up on the job. It’s a good idea for someone else in the club to be the web-master and Facebook administrator, rather than the public “face”, since those online duties can take up quite a bit of time.
The more the merrier!
Here is a group of clowns who attended Moose Camp together. We are members of The Clown Arounds of Wright County.
The Clown Arounds began because Darrell Jensen went to Moose Camp for the first time and then looked at me and said, “Now what?” So in 2006 we started a clown club with some existing clowns in the area and have been growing ever since.
You want to see how busy the club was this past Spring and Summer? Take a look at their Facebook Event page for a sample of their schedule: http://www.facebook.com/TheClownArounds/events
This is a club which has its act together. And I don’t think I’m just saying that because I have a personal connection with them. 😉
I am very proud of them. They have education at the meetings, they get together to practice skits, they build props together, they plan events and shows. They even make the effort to find grant money and funding for expenses which enhance their shows and allow them to perform for free.
This is a hard-working group of clowns who support one another and have fun together. They have put into practice all the advice you have just read about.
How can you help your alley?
If you feel your club is losing members or dying away, don’t give up! Chances are, if you feel that way, others may as well. They may want to keep the club alive, too! Contact them and give them a pep talk. Brainstorm ideas for bringing back the former members and gaining new ones.
Plan some of these events I mentioned. Find something you can take pride in, and build on it.
Take it one step at a time, and remain optimistic. Enthusiasm is contagious.
What sort of things have you done with your clown club which keep the fun going? We would love to hear your success stories! Post a comment below or to our Mooseburger Facebook Page
Be inspired! Read more advice for your clown club and your own clown performance:
- Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Improve communication in your clown alley
- Facebook for Clowns – Promote your clown club online.
- How Can Everybody Win? – Kazoos and Jokes can save your club’s waning membership!
- Clown Goals – We need to set goals in order to grow. How do we do that?
- National Clown Shortage – Where have all the clowns gone?
- Clown: Plain Clothes Division – What do you do when your client asks for no clown makeup?
- Don’t Over-Think It – How to create a clown character without too much stress.
- Clown All Year ‘Round – Do you you use your clown skills in other capacities?
- Ice Breakers – How do you break the ice with little kids?
- Clown Emergency! – Is your clown club prepared when tragedy strikes?
- You CAN say “no” – Avoid being burnt-out from clown responsibilities.