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Who's in the alley?

Discussion in 'The Clown Forum' started by WillyNilly, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Clementine

    Clementine New Member

    I joined an alley, as much to have a group to hold myself accountable to. I then joined MACA and WCA. In each case, I'm interested in helping keep those organizations around: I want it to be as easy for other folks to enter the craft and sustain it forward as it's been for me. The scary clown phenomenon can be most effectively battled if there's a thriving community of true clowns, sharing tradecraft with each other and growing the practice overall. I've debated joining COIA, as well: the reason I joined WCA, frankly, was to allow me to vote to support a clown who I respected who was running for office. I haven't had the same reason in COIA as yet, and since I'm still in the 'not-yet-earning money', I'm attempting to make smart choices as to where I direct funds.

    Magazines vs. online: the magazines don't wow me, but the websites are really not amazing... I say that as a person whose day job is software development. That said, though, I'm not joining the organizations to get their publications, but more to support their mission. Instead of a charitable contribution to NPR to help spread news, mine was effectively a charitable contribution to help spread clowning. I do honestly enjoy seeing the ads in the magazines: they're exposing me to suppliers I might or might not have otherwise stumbled upon, many of whom have some really neat stuff! Since I haven't seen ads up on the websites as yet, I'll put forward that advantage to a newbie-ish clown..
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  2. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I think that this is a key insight to transforming these sort of traditional organizations from social based to mission oriented. People are, perhaps, more likely to support something which they see doing positive good in an area they believe in, even if the benefit is more for others than themselves.

    An example....in Chicago there is a group called the Saints. Those who belong, often older adults, act as volunteer ushers for much of the city's thriving theater scene. In return for their efforts, they get to see the show at no additional cost. But, in order to belong, they also pay an annual membership fee (about $75, if I recall correctly.) These funds are, then, used to offer grants for special projects and needs of theater companies. So, the community building aspect is extended beyond just being a fun club, to being a valuable resource for the arts.

    Acting more as "mid-stream" is, in some sense where it is at in opportunity for these organizations. Too often, they see themselves as the end product. But, really, connecting communities and product providers with consumers is where their greatest resourcefulness may exist.

    Rather than being restrictive in membership, then, they would do well to be more expansive, since the more people they can reach and for whom they have market/demographic data, the larger the likely customer base they can provide for advertisers. Offering free email newsletters, for example, are a necessity. (And, of course, that isn't entirely free, anyway, as an email address is a valuable commodity, providing a "warm contact" to interested parties who both consume and offer support.)

    Additionally, advertising (that is to say, investment expecting a return at a certain profitable percentage rate as distinct from simply sponsorship that says thank you for the valuable work you do, but perhaps writes it off as a tax deduction) need not only be associated with the sort of thing an organization represents. For instance (to be cheeky) if the demographic of an organization includes a lot of old people, perhaps you ought to be selling Ben Gay and Viagra. Or luxury cars.

    Information like geographic area and age, as well as specific sub-interest of genre to a general area, also enables better target marketing.

    These are largely unexplored areas for most traditional membership organizations.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  3. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I wonder if COAI and WCA should be more active at the national (or international) level. I suspect their charter are more as a social/membership organization rather than one that is a charity or special interest group. I don't keep up with the activities of the Circus Fans of America, but I do see them taking action or suggesting membership take action to protect the circus and the ability of the groups to perform at locations around the country.

    I keep hearing the membership is a problem. COAI had a campaign to have members donate membership to people to increase membership. If COAI had someone doing "business development" maybe advertising at the national level in publications for other types of entertainers (magicians, puppets, jugglers, etc.) they could attract membership to both the local alley and national organization. They might also target groups like hospital workers, nursing homes, or other places where clowns perform. The local alley won't have the resources to reach a national organization, but COAI as a whole might.

    Maybe if COAI and WCA had a formal relationship with Ringling, the Big Apple Circus, and Cole Brothers Circus, those groups wouldn't have stopped operations. COAI could have a presentation to Ringling in every major city, helped organize trips for the local clown alley to meet the circus alley, had some type of ad where the circus directed the audience to join a local clown alley and train to become clowns.
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  4. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Unfortunately, I don't think that the ultimate limited reach of these sorts of groups would have gone very far is "saving the circus." But, this is also why numbers matter. The traditional membership groups probably need to think a bit less in terms of adding a thousand members and more in terms of marketing to a hundred thousand, with the idea that they'll increase awareness, generally, and gain contacts for a certain percentage of patrons, and (to a lesser extent) membership and donations. Look at what successful not for profits in the arts, education, and entertainment do. They want numbers. Even if those numbers are in smaller level commitments and donations. Numbers speak significantly to foundations and donors who make major grants, when they see that an organisation's work is making difference and reaching a lot of people who believe in it.

    But this requires a transformative vision for traditional membership groups, which were founded in a different era and still largely exist as if the internet has not been created and the year is 1955.

    That said, yes, collaborations are critical and should be more widely sought, for mutual benefit.
  5. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I do think that the success of entertainer events, such as twist and shout; kiddabra; and kapital kidvention are instructive in understanding what people might be looking for.

    Part of the challenge in the clowning community is that it tries to do so many things.

    Clowning is unique. It doesn't necessarily have anything inherently to do with the family entertainment business that a lot of clowns are in. These are distinct. Now, one can bring their clowning to bear upon their entertainment performance. Or one can entertain appearing as a clown. But the two just are not equal. Similarly when it comes into other current outlets for clowns, be that hospitals/nursing homes; circus; the stage; the street; work with balloons, face painting, magic......or wherever. These are all tools, as well as their own individual skill sets and arts.

    Consequently, clowning organizations don't always have the best focus, as they are spread thin stretching in many directions, while having a hard time, too often, even clearly defining or agreeing upon what it means to be a clown and what clown education should entail. And, they therefore, frequently fall short in standing out and being the best that they can at any one thing.

    This, too, is likely the result of the times moving past the organizations. Perhaps, in the past, all of these distinctions and directions were not so complex. At a certain time, when such organizations were founded and thrived, it may have been more clear what the expectations and job of a clown was. But, in our own times, things have outgrown those understandings while the groups haven't quite been able to either keep pace nor have they been able to find their own identity entirely, as the art and entertainment world have evolved around them.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  6. AMagicClown

    AMagicClown New Member

    I'm a member of COAI, WCA, SEC, N.A.M.E., S.A.M., BBB & Osceola/Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce.
    I'm a member of all these organizations because I like to be involved in the community and also they're good more marketing purposes. :)
    I enjoy going to the local meetings and meeting new friends. I also want to help in keeping the art of clowning & magic alive.
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