What’s All This Talk About the NEED for Laughter?

What’s All This Talk About the NEED for Laughter?

Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean economist, postulates that across all cultures and societies, humans all have the same needs. And unlike Maslow, Max-Neef argues that these needs are not hierarchical, or in other words, the need for food is just as important as the need for affection, because if one is valued higher than the other, poor outcomes will follow. We recognize that food, water, shelter, and security are vital, but we believe that joy, happiness, and laughter rank very high on that scale, even when they seem forgotten by those who suffer. Refugees leave behind everything to seek refuge because everyone has the right to live. It is not ideal to travel to lands unknown and place yourself at the mercy of others. For those thrust into prolonged, life-threatening situations, each day adds thick layers of stresses that pile and compress like a fault line. It’s the lack of release; the inability to blow off steam; the monotony of daily existence; the familiar routine that has evaporated and the madness of it all that often brings terrible anxiety. Interrupting the flow of this viciousness is imperative. A small dose of relaxation and a spoonful of play go a long way in feeding the human spirit and helping a person face another day. Being empathic of people in crisis is about appreciating the desire for physiological, mental, and spiritual fulfillment. What happens in the long minutes of the day as refugees wait for the next unknown move in their life? How do they find the quiet solitude to process the hardships they have already faced, before encountering the next set...
Find Your Funny Workshop Returns

Find Your Funny Workshop Returns

Clowns Without Borders returns to the Omega Institute this summer to host our professional development workshop, “Find Your Funny.” Four professional Clowns Without Borders artists will provide an array of clown and physical theatre training from July 2-7, 2017, on site at the gorgeous Omega Institute campus in Rhinebeck, NY. Helpful for teachers, social workers, medical professionals, community leaders, artists, and performers, this workshop helps you find the funny that’s already inside you—and inspires you to spread your joy to benefit others. Clown is more than the nose, more than the costumes and much deeper than the make-up. We are here to work with you, as you are, to explore YOUR funny. No costumes, no noses, no make-up needed. Experience? Not needed! We will present you with eight playful sessions that span from storytelling and the history of CWB-USA to exploring playfulness in your own body and within a group of people. We will study traditional forms like slapstick and physical comedy and also experience ways to find fun with common objects and the often intimidating unknown. Instructors: Hilary Chaplain, Kali Quinn, Kolleen Kintz and Tim Cunningham Tuition: $430 plus accommodations   Reserve your tickets today and meet the instructors!       Session 1: “A Home with CWB: Stories” Facilitator: Tim Cunningham Tim will welcome the group with verbal and physical introductions. A few games that share the essence of clown will be included.  The whole team of teachers will spend the session intertwining stories and experiences of working with CWB so as to lay a foundation of understanding about the richness of this work.   Session 2:...
Announcing New Members to CWB-USA Board of Directors

Announcing New Members to CWB-USA Board of Directors

Clowns Without Borders USA proudly announces the addition of four new members to the Board of Directors. Our new members bring a wealth of expertise, energy, and a deep passion for the mission of our organization–to bring laughter where it’s needed most. Get to know our newest members: Erin Leigh Crites, Gulshirin Dubash, Martha Neighbors, and Sayda Trujillo.   Erin Leigh Crites is an international theatre artist, educator, and purveyor of make believe. In the past ten years, Erin has traveled extensively to explore the global community and create bonds through theatrical play. From 2013 to 2015, she worked in an international ensemble to develop and originate a role in Nobel Prize Winner, Dario Fo’s newest, unpublished play, La Storia di Qu for the International Milan Expo. This work reinforced her passion for international collaboration and fueled her continued teaching of workshops in ensemble dynamics, clown, mask work and devising, all of which center around the conveyance of meaning through physicality rather than language. Currently, she splits her time between Los Angeles and Idyllwild as an ensemble member of Fiasco! Physical Theatre and as a full-time instructor in the theatre department at the international boarding school, Idyllwild Arts Academy, respectively. She joined Clowns Without Borders in 2010 after receiving her MFA in physically based ensemble theatre from Dell’Arte International. How did Erin first find out about Clowns Without Borders? She says, “It was the wee hours, after a long night of wandering conversation, when Adrian Mejia told me I should go on a trip with Clowns Without Borders. He was right. And I honor his memory with every trip. Thank...
Need Your Daily Exercise? Try Clowning.

Need Your Daily Exercise? Try Clowning.

By Guest Blogger and Performer, Molly Siskin    There is no exhaustion like the one that comes at the end of a long day hard at work in clown training. Clowning has a particular way of exercising performers both physically and emotionally because in many ways it is both an art and sport. You might not immediately think of clowns at athletes, but traditionally circus clowns would often perform alongside the acrobats in the troupe, executing some of the same skills but with a unique twist that only a clown can bring. Clowning is a very physical form of theatre and requires a high level of physical dexterity, awareness, and control. Additionally, the long hours and fast-paced schedule of a clowning career (particularly in the circus), require stamina and strength. Modern clown training is easily comparable to physical theatre or modern dance, both practices that utilize body movement to tell a story or convey a mood, and may even use similar exercises, games, and movement-improvisational work. The parallels between clown and dance have not gone unnoticed. Charlie Chaplin was once called “the greatest ballet dancer that ever lived” when he received his honorary Oscar. The ability to communicate a story with one’s body requires nuanced control of your body and facial muscles. Physical awareness and expressiveness take time, sweat, and practice. For some, that can mean a rigorous regiment of daily training to gain strength and physical ability. Famous Russian ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, “Get used to pain. It’s part of a dancer’s life.” One way that clowning differs from most dance is what Clown Theorist Jacques...
Are We Allowed to Laugh?

Are We Allowed to Laugh?

By Tim Cunningham, CWB-USA Volunteer   I was invited to participate in a very last minute and end-of-year capacity building project with our friends in Turkey who are on their way to forming a new chapter of Clowns Without Borders in Turkey– Sınır Tanımayan Palyaçolar. I arrived the night of December 30th to Güray’s neighborhood, which had not had electricity for two days because of heavy winds. He walked me through the quiet streets of Kadıköy, the ancient neighborhood just on the Asian side of Istanbul. The streets were not quiet only because there was no power—this was a Friday night, the night before New Year’s Eve and we were in the bar district—people had just not been going out. Güray’s friend’s met us at a candlelit bar, one of the few that were open and immediately began cracking jokes about bombings, terror attacks and how no one came to Turkey anymore to visit. “So what’s wrong with you?” One asked me. At some point during our second beer the power came back on, the bar came to life with light and sound, but still, not many other people came in that night. The next day, Güray, Ecenur, Melike, and I met at his apartment to plan an afternoon show for a nearby hospital. Though strong performers, none of them had extensive experience working in hospitals. We planned and rehearsed for three hours and then, in costume, took a cab to the Siyami Ersek Hastanesi, a cardiac hospital. There we were first greeted by a cat that walked from the hospital lobby to rub up against my leg—for those...
18th Annual Portland Benefit for Clowns Without Borders

18th Annual Portland Benefit for Clowns Without Borders

18th Annual Portland Clowns Without Borders Benefit Show   The area’s top variety and circus performers put on an amazing, hilarious, family-friendly show to support a great cause. Friday, January 27th, 8:00 PM, doors at 7:00 pm. Family friendly! Beer, wine, pop, and snacks available. Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St. Tickets https://www.albertarosetheatre.com/ $25 Advance, $35 At the door, $15 Kids (12 & under) $50 Premium Seats (support CWB and sit in the front center section – advance only)   The Scoop: Clowns have a bad rep these days, but it doesn’t get us down because we know some of the best clowns around! They are performers who can make can make children and adults alike, laugh out loud with few words and a handful props. Good clowns create beauty in a difficult world. For more than 20 years, Clowns Without Borders USA has sent circus and theater professionals to war zones, refugee camps and crisis areas all over the world. And for 18 years the Northwest’s best circus artists, physical comedians, and variety acts have been coming together annually to create a thrilling evening of comedy and circus to support Clowns Without Borders USA. This year’s CWB-USA Benefit Show is no exception, featuring the area’s top acts, with live music by the Shoehorn Hat Band. Last year’s show sold out in advance, so get your tickets now. Featuring: Paulina Muñoz and Omri Geva come from separate backgrounds working with a variety of circuses and dance companies and have come together in the last year to create an aerial dance duo that displays extraordinary creativity and athleticism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qegqkSW8AGY...
Coming Full Circle: Our 100th Project

Coming Full Circle: Our 100th Project

  It’s a watershed moment for Clowns Without Borders USA. Our first undertaking of 2017 is also our 100th project since our organizations’s founding in 1995! Therefore it is fitting that we are returning to Chiapas, Mexico, where it all began for CWB-USA. Founder Moshe Cohen began making trips to this magical part of the world to serve the people of Chiapas in CWB-USA’s nascent days.   The indigenous community residing in Chiapas were oppressed in poverty and brutalized by the government of the time because of the land on which they live. The region where they reside and have for hundreds of years, is rich in minerals, water, and crops such coffee and cacao, but the indigenous people are among poorest and most marginalized in Mexico. Chiapas is a jewel, but the people and region have been taken advantage of by power, politics, and trade agreements. The Zapatista Revolution began in 1994 and was the locals way of saying, ‘we want autonomy.’ They succeeded in becoming autonomous, but at significant cost.   Rudi Galindo, a long-time volunteer, professional clown, and colleague of founder Moshe Cohen, is leading the team returning Chiapas this January for CWB-USA’s 100th project. Rudi has been traveling to share levity and moments joyful play, every year for nearly two decades. He is compelled to return and give the gift of laughter and to keep a promise.   Many years ago, on a trip to Chiapas, Rudi and another volunteer, David Lichtenstein, went to a displacement camp for the indigenous people seeking escape from recent massacres at the hands of the military. It was a wet...
How Clowns, Police, and Abraham Lincoln Intersect Social Reform

How Clowns, Police, and Abraham Lincoln Intersect Social Reform

By Guest Blogger Nadiya Atkinson   The conventional image of clowns is in the Big Top circus, wearing bright clothing and entertaining the crowd. Across the history of circus, clowns have had the central role in bringing fun and humor into the dangerous stunt shows. However, clowns have not only impacted the evolution of circus into the beloved art that it is today. Some have influenced society as well, from politics to social reform. Antanas Mockus was the mayor of the Bogotá, Colombia, for two terms. He is highly educated with a focus in mathematics and philosophy. During his two, two-year terms, he introduced innovative policy measures in Bogota, from voluntary taxes to cutting water usage by 40 percent solely through public education. However, he is most known for his popular initiative of replacing part of the police force with 420 mimes. Patrolling intersections, the mimes would embarrass pedestrians and drivers who broke the law, imitating their movements or loudly denouncing them with flamboyant hand gestures. Within the first month, drivers began to respect crosswalks, with pedestrians adhering to laws as well. Clowning does not only inspire laughter–it can inspire social change as well. Abraham Lincoln is well known across the world, inspiring books and movies, and is considered one of the greatest U.S Presidents in history. However, not many (except for circus nerds) know of Dan Rice, one of the household names during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Rice combined circus and humor with political commentary, and was incredibly popular, coining the sayings, “one horse show” and “greatest show,” and inspired the phrase “to jump on the bandwagon,” after asking...
Clowns, Standing Rock, and Tribal Connections

Clowns, Standing Rock, and Tribal Connections

Demonstrators at Standing Rock have been protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota since early April of this year. The numbers of protesters and police at Standing Rock have grown substantially, as have tensions and arrests. Frigid temperatures and snow have also arrived in full, adding a new level of complexity to the intense situation. In September, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe held a rally of 500+ people to get the attention of the White House, which, combined with the well-organized protest and media coverage, may have helped. On Sunday, Federal officials announced they would not approve permits for construction of the pipeline in an area near scared burial rights and which would go underneath a dammed portion of the Missouri River. Furthermore, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would explore alternative routes for the pipeline by use of an Environmental Impact Statement. The following day, they denied a permit for construction of a critical section of the pipeline. Protesters, or “protectors” as some call themselves, had been ordered to leave their camp as of December 5. With the Army Corps of Engineer’s decision to deny the final easement to drill under the river, and DAPLs statement of intent to continue forward undeterred, and it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. Several professional performers who also volunteer with Clowns Without Borders trekked out to Standing Rock and joined other demonstrators in solidarity. All went for various personal reasons, but their reports back to us indicate that the atmosphere of the protesters is one of fellowship and unity. One clown has this to say about...
Make Laughter Abundant for All on Giving Tuesday

Make Laughter Abundant for All on Giving Tuesday

The burdens of dealing with tragedy don’t always leave room for humor. When hardship is prolonged, we may not even realize that we lost the sense of joy, the desire for wonder, or the freedom to play. In places where many resources are scarce, Clowns Without Borders works to make laughter abundant. We hope you will take action and support this work. Gabi Winters recently volunteered for Project Kenya 2016, where she worked in the extreme environment of the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Camp population is closing in on 200,000 people, and more than half are minors. The camp residents are in a constant state of survival and uncertainty about their futures. Moments of laughter are scarce. Gabi learned very quickly that her interactions needed to make the audience feel safe. She built trust through affection and attentiveness, using every opportunity to connect with those around her. Through small moments of connections, and by keeping an open mind and an open heart, we see a great transformation. Clowns Without Borders frequently travels great distances to reach those in crisis. At its core, our work is to create small moments of laughter. I invite you to do the same. Take laughter with you. The world is changing. We can shape how it evolves. We can encourage curiosity, compassion, and courage. We can amplify kindness so that the disenfranchised are given a voice. Take laughter with you, and take a moment to share laughter with others. Join us now and support our mission. A small gift helps us share laughter with those in crisis; who are displaced and without a home. Laughter takes...

Fan Appreciation Giveaway!

Win a hoodie! Rules and Terms: One random winner will be selected from the entries on Instagram. Participation limited to the U.S. only. Winners are announced on the Flash Giveaway post. Winners will be notified within 24 hours of the end of the Flash Giveaway. Winners will be asked for a shipping address and requested shirt size via private e-mail message. Winners: please send your information to tamara@clownswithoutborders.org; do not make your shipping information public on the post. Clowns Without Borders will ship the prize to the shipping address, but ships only to addresses in the United States. Prizes will be shipped 14 to 21 days after the end of the Flash Giveaway. The Flash Giveaway duration is 24 hours. It begins Wednesday, November 2, 2016, at 12:00 pm EST and ends Thursday, November 3, 2016, at 12:00 pm EST. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Instagram. You understand that you are providing your information to the Clowns Without Borders Instagram profile and not to Instagram or Facebook. Thanks for following Clowns Without...
Clown Spotting

Clown Spotting

By Tamara Palmer & Selena McMahon   It’s difficult to compete against headlines such as, “Creepy Clown Sightings Cause a Frenzy.” When it comes to clowns, the recent disturbing events in the United States and elsewhere in the world, are what catches America’s clown spotting attention, and not the work of Clowns Without Borders USA (CWB USA). CWB USA offers performances and workshops to alleviate the suffering of all people in crisis, especially children, through laughter. Unfortunately, at CWB USA we frequently have to divert many of our conversations away from our mission and towards a discussion of coulrophobia. For as long as we can remember, our performing artists, staff, and board members have analyzed the fear of clowns that exists in contemporary American culture. We know it exists, but our experience and understanding of clowns are that they are authentic and intelligent artists who have a gift to connect with the raw emotions of the audience. Clowns undertake years of training including, physical theater, circus arts, creative performance, studies abroad, and the examination of philosophical and humanities texts. The red nose is an opportunity to conjoin with people. It helps establish a safe space where laughing at our human frailties and life’s ironies is encouraged and accepted. So what are the origins of the fear? Katie Rogers looked to Dr. Schlozman, a child psychiatrist, for a possible answer in her New York Times article. Dr. Schlozman says it’s the exaggerated features of the clown that sets off warning flags. Perhaps there is truth in this reasoning, but the article falls short of doing any justice to the possible...
A Poem for Clowns Without Borders

A Poem for Clowns Without Borders

Self acclaimed, “poet, performer, and sometimes clown,” Sophie Fenella writes eloquently about the endeavors of the Clowns Without Border volunteer clown and captures the essence of life in crisis. “We have to laugh,” because there is resilience in laughter. Like this poem? Leave a...
Where We Belong

Where We Belong

By Jemima Evans CWB USA Guest Blogger   My name is Jemima Evans, and I am a British citizen. Just a few months back, family, friends and myself were told to make a decision about belonging. In short, where did we belong, inside or outside the European border? We were to decide on Thursday 23rd June 2016. Brexit, as it is commonly known, is the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw and end its membership in the European Union. The U.K. held a referendum, and by a narrow decision, the nation decided to leave. What happened in Britain is common knowledge, but the short and long-term impacts are just beginning to unfold. Just a few weeks before the referendum, I made my way to a special exhibit. Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond, features interactive art that tells the stories of those who have fled and arrived in Calais, France. It encourages viewers to imagine the terrifying and sometimes deadly experiences of those who have been forced into migration. As you walk, you will find yourself in a room filled with life jackets; life jackets that used to belong to people. People who didn’t make it across the border to safety. As well as individuals that may not have lost their life, but perhaps their sense of belonging, and because of horrible conflict, are now labeled, “refugees.” The exhibition also featured the Good Chance Calais theatre dome, which was built by Good Chance Theatre charity, on the south bank of the Calais Encampment. The dome offered created a space for refugees to sing, dance, play music,...

Clowns Without Borders USA Condemns Creepy Clown Pranks

Dear Reader, On October 14, 2016, Clowns Without Borders USA issued a press release condemning the actions of the “creepy clowns.” What follows is the exact language of our press release. We are including the release as a blog post for the benefit of our community; for you to know our position on the issue and our appreciation for the clown community. You can view the original press release here or at any of the several hundred outlets who picked up our release. Thank you.   Clowns Without Borders USA Condemns Creepy Clown Pranks Clowns Without Borders USA (CWB-USA) condemns the actions of agents who are impersonating clowns to frighten others and the actions of those who are using distorted clown images to make fictitious threats and incite anxiety. The wave of negative and hurtful sentiments expressed against professional clowns pains our community. “While this phenomenon in the U.S. hasn’t affected our international programming, it certainly has affected the climate here at home. We honor and support our community of professional performing artists, who are experiencing prejudice because of this,” says Molly Rose Levine, Executive Director for CWB-USA. Furthermore, we are distraught by the reports of school closures, verbal harassments and physical altercations linked to creepy clowns in numerous states. The agitation these threats may have caused people saddens us and is in no way a reflection of the mission and work of our organization. The “Creepy Clowns” as they are now commonly referred to, are, in fact, not clowns. The term is a misnomer. The pretenders are disturbing figures who are pretending to be clowns and hiding their...
Top Clown Schools in the U.S.

Top Clown Schools in the U.S.

This blog is a resource for those who dream about clowning. We’ve listed some of the top clown schools in the U.S. If you’ve been considering seeking formal training we hope that these schools might inspire you. We receive many inquiries from talented, aspiring volunteers who don’t have a background in circus or clown, but are eager to get involved. It’s wonderful to hear from so many passionate people interested in learning more about the art of clown. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and we’re not experts about all of the wonderful physical theatre schools in the U.S. If you attended or know of a first-class program that you’d like us to share, leave us a comment on this blog.   Dell’Arte International Located in rural Blue Lake, California is Dell’Arte International, a school for theatre training, research, and performance of the actor-creator. Its School of Physical Theater teaches actors to develop their use of physical spaces, gestures, and movements and approach stage performance as poetic expression. Students are guided by instruction while continuously exploring and producing creative works. Physical theatre education is the core of Dell’Arte academic programming. It offers a professional training program, Master of Fine Arts advanced ensemble program, a summer intensive, and a study abroad to Bali. Dell’Arte was founded in 1971 by Carlo Mazzone-Clementi and Jane Hill who wanted to share the European traditions of physical theater training with North American artists and performers. The school is an internationally recognized institution. It is replete with studios, gymnastics/acro classrooms, mask construction area, costume shop, theatre, amphitheater, sound and video systems, as well...
What We Don’t Take Pictures Of

What We Don’t Take Pictures Of

By Naomi Shafer Clowns Without Borders Funds Development Officer   On August 28th, 2011, Hurricane Irene hit my hometown. The photographers arrived before the National Guard. As we walked with our neighbors to explore the damage – houses, roads, orchards disappeared by the river – strangers made the town a tourist destination. As we collected scattered belongings and organized shelter, social media gaped at the unlikeliness of a Hurricane in Vermont.   Vermont’s improbable circumstances made us a news coverage novelty. A terrible situation was made worse by the media’s snide comments and insensitivities. People in cities that were spared by Hurricane Irene joked, “what hurricane?” while we waited for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At best, we received pity. Five years later, the confusion of being portrayed as a joke and a victim still stings. Why am I telling you about this experience? Because now, more than ever, it’s important to take stock of how to talk about and show people in crisis. During every project, Clowns Without Borders could take pictures of tragedy. We could show you hunger, poverty, violence, or sickness. But instead, we show you laughter, community, and resilience. We want our pictures to demonstrate the connection between people, not the difference in our circumstances. In October of 2015, we had a team on the Greek island of Lesvos when four boats capsized in one night. That evening, the clowns — in their plain clothes — went to the northern harbor of Molyvos to help. Every survivor had lost someone that night. Sabine spent her night in the church-turned-emergency room, translating for the patients and...
Theatre of the Heart

Theatre of the Heart

When you love something, anything; people sense it. Love takes many forms. Rudi Galindo, clown, professional performer, and a Clowns Without Borders (CWB) volunteer since day one, is so full of love that it exudes from his wide, bright smile and fills the room. He found his passion long ago and it’s been filling him with love ever since. It is his devotion to theatre and the enduring connections he creates with audiences. Rudi has always had an ability to impact the audience. During performances, he aims for the audience’s hearts, then their ‘funny bones,’ and then their intellects. He is interested in exciting people by evoking emotions that sometimes lay latent. He calls it, “Theatre of the Heart.” Theatre of the Heart turns the traditional concept of performance on its head. To be theatrical is to put on a show, sometimes a fiction. But Rudi’s style of creativity invites the audience to be anything but fake. Whether the show makes you laugh, cry, or feel tenderness, the idea is to draw out the true senses of the heart and allow for a protective space to let those emotions be expressed without repercussion. When the community around you is experiencing and expressing at the same time, well, these moments become meaningful and striking. Rudi’s style of creative theatre has traveled with him as he has performed all over the United States, Europe, and Central America. His love for theatre and honest kinship with viewers endears him to the audiences of Clowns Without Borders projects. Rudi has communed in laughter with many, many people served by Clowns Without Borders. He...
Laughter Transforms Discrimination

Laughter Transforms Discrimination

By Nadiya Atkinson Clowns Without Borders USA Guest Blogger   Language surrounds us. Contemporary rhetoric is constantly utilized, from conversations to the media, to debates, to institutions, to water-cooler chats, to political discourse, and to novels. It is a necessary part of our society, as society progresses through the diversity of opinions on topics. It allows individuals to hear multiple sides to one issue and change public opinion on others. However, recent studies, (http://nber.org/papers/w22423), have portrayed rising polarization in political rhetoric in the past few decades. Some persuasive rhetoric often champions social divisions or violence against certain minorities and populations. Such language affects not only adults, but children as well, who hear the opinions of their parents, teachers, classmates, media, etc., and base their actions off of what they hear. An infamous experiment was made in 1968 by Jane Elliot, a third-grade school teacher in Riceville, Iowa, in which she separated the class based on eye color – blue or brown – and proceeded to tell the students that one eye color was better, and demeaned those who had the alternate eye color. The students quickly caught on and began to discriminate against the students who didn’t have their eye color, regardless if they had previously been friends. Learning materials and more about the experiments are located at http://janeelliott.com. Children are extremely sensitive and open, as they learn by examples given to them by adults. If social behavior promotes the inferiority of some individuals, kids will learn that those people are inferior, regardless of whether it is true or not. If society portrays minority groups as inhuman and violent,...
Look Away From Fear and Towards Education

Look Away From Fear and Towards Education

By Molly Rose Levine   As someone with friends and colleagues scattered around the world, the fallout of violence and disruption hits close to home, no matter where that happens to be: Juba; Beirut; Nice; Baghdad; Athens; Aleppo; Paris. After the attack on the Istanbul airport last month, my heart clenched in my throat as I waited to hear if any community member had been traveling through the airport. I breathed a sigh of relief: another tragedy dodged. Little did I know that a few weeks later we would still be changing plans to accommodate violence in the region. South Sudan had been experiencing a period of peace since a treaty signed in August 2015, but unfortunately experienced violent clashes at the beginning of July. Together with our partners at INTERSOS and Save the Children Juba, we made the call to postpone our project. Without a safety/evacuation plan from our partners and support from the Consulate, we will not send our artists into active conflict areas. In the end, we could not assure the safety of our team in the event of increasing clashes. This decision was difficult after so much time and energy was put into the project. I wrote a blog which explains more about the situation in South Sudan. Read it here. Three days before our artistic team planned to travel to Turkey; the failed military coup happened. We waited for the aftermath, hoping against hope that in three days the situation would be stable. By the time we needed to make the call, we did not have enough information to move forward, and so we...