2002 BILL GRAHAM AWARD
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.
Clowns Without Borders offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency. It brings levity, contemporary clown/circus oriented performances and workshops into communities so that they can celebrate together and forget for a moment the tensions that darken their daily lives. It also seeks to raise our society’s awareness of affected populations and to promote a spirit of solidarity.
In memory of pioneering producer and founding Rex board member Bill Graham, himself a refugee, this award is for those working to assist children who are victims of political oppression and human rights violations.