Clowns Without Borders was founded in Barcelona in July 1993. The idea began when Tortell Poltrona, a professional clown in Spain, was invited to perform in a refugee camp in Croatia. This performance unexpectedly attracted audiences of more than 700 children, proving to Poltrona that there is a great need for clowns and entertainment in crisis situations. He founded Clowns Without Borders to offer humor as a means of psychological support to communities that have suffered trauma. Read the UNHCR interview with Tortell Poltrona.
Another project was organized for May of 1993, and this time two more artists, Boni & Caroli, accompanied Tortell, traveling and performing in the refugee camps in Croatia. What followed was a wave of performers and shows in the ex-Yugoslavia region from Spain. Soon Clowns Without Borders organizations sprung up in France and Sweden. The CWB movement expanded into other areas of conflict, from the Western Sahara, to Palestine and Israel, to Columbia and other countries throughout Central America. By the year 2000, over one hundred expeditions had been launched.
CWB-USA Is Born
After traveling to perform in Guatemalan refugee camps in Chiapas, Mexico (1987) and in South African township schools (1991), Moshe Cohen participated with the French, Clowns Sans Frontieres, in Croatia (1994) and performed in eleven refugee camps in eight days. He then started Clowns Without Borders-USA in 1995. Clowns Without Borders-USA continues to be a grassroots, volunteer-run organization. With the support of many volunteers, and the hardworking board, the organization continues to strive to bring laughter and humor to children and persons in areas of crisis.
CWB Around the World
Now with Clowns Without Borders organizations in nine countries (Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Canada and the United States) we hope to work together to send at least one hundred projects throughout the world each year.