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Who's in the alley?

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

  1. WillyNilly

    WillyNilly Member

    Hi All: Who belongs to a clown alley or other professional organization, such as Clowns Of America International (COAI) or the World Clown Association (WCA) or other, or international organization?
  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I am the President of our local clown alley, although we struggle to get more than four people to show up to the meetings or other activities. I am also a member of COAI and WCA. Although, I honestly don't know that either group really does much to benefit their members beyond hosting an annual convention that might be attended by 10% of the members. They have magazines that they send out, but the content isn't overly educational.
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  3. WillyNilly

    WillyNilly Member

    Hi Sir Toony:
    Back in the day, I also was WCA and COAI, mostly for the insurance, the magazines were nothing to write home about. There weren't any alleys within 100 miles. My present location puts me with spitting distance of a COAI Alley, which I think I will join. I also got a look at the COAI magazine, and it has come a long way, so I think that's in my future also. Not a lot of convention action on the east coast lately that I have seen, since Clownfest folded.
  4. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    The Mid-Atlantic Clown Association has their annual convention in November. It has been in the Harrisburg/Hershey PA area for the past several years.
  5. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    It's interesting how you, accurately in my opinion, note this. I'd like to relate it to the Circus Fans Association, which I have been involved with and served, for a short stint at least, as membership chair.

    The latter organization, a few years ago, conducted a planning survey in which they discovered similar statistics. Part of the conclusions drawn included a need to focus less attention on an annual convention and dedicating greater resources towards the larger percentage of members who may never attend one. Such was certainly a key element of my own advocacy and work during my time of service. I also noted that the organization's magazine (for which the bulk of their budget is spent, alas in an era when that forum for communication has grown increasingly expensive and reaches fewer people) was not particularly effective at promoting circus and reaching audiences in an engaging manner, and that both the substance and means of media use required improvement/adaptation to our era.

    Unfortunately, these calls (some of which was also determined via said survey and plan) were largely ignored in favor of promoting conventions and running a largely ineffective, and somewhat expensive, magazine. Such doesn't especially attract new membership, and certainly does little to encourage retention/renewal.

    Old habits die hard, I suppose. Change, even when obviously necessary, isn't easy.

    Yet, as we performers know, if one fails to connect with an audience, what is the worth of one's endeavor, ultimately? It will not likely long last.
  6. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I know that a lot of people joined WCA just to get the insurance. Many weren't even clowns, but face painters or balloon twisters who wanted the performer's liability insurance at a reasonable price. COAI copied the idea a year or two ago and now also has insurance.

    COAI has a fancy website, but I couldn't tell you the last time I bothered to visit... but I come to the Clown Forum daily. Their Facebook page is mainly used to tell people how many likes they have and how close they are to the next milestone, such as getting 5000 likes to their page. They could post mini articles, joke of the day, or stuff like that, but they don't
  7. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    Heh. I don't know about the fancy website. That thing looks like it was made 15 years ago and never updated. (Notice the labyrinthine menu options. Modern sites simplify these to a greater extent, owing to the prevalence of users now viewing websites on phones or tablets.) I'm with you... this site is far more useful.
  8. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I once joined the 'Fellowship of Christian Clowns,' not because I felt it was a quality group, but rather because it was a fledgling organization looking to get started and I figured I'd join and supply the dues to getting the group off the ground. I don't recall ever doing anything with it and the group may now be defunct - I've never checked. It was much akin to joining the audience of a fellow entertainer at a festival - to show support.

    I keep, for the most part, an IBM membership. Sometimes I let it lapse, but more often than not, I keep it renewed. I like the Linking Ring (for the most part) and they've tried to keep things modern - moreso than the clown groups I'd argue. You get access to all past issues of The Linking Ring, some tutorials, reviews, etc - small tidbits that make it worthwhile to visit the website and all. Obviously, you get access to the Castle with your membership which is good for getting to live performances and lectures and such, or as a simple stop on a vacation when you're out west.. I rarely do anything with local chapters formally because I tend to work with the same group of people I 'work' with in putting together festivals, conventions, etc.

    I use 'Specialty' insurance and it's not really tied to one group or another these days. I honestly do more with the non-professional groups (Wheelmen, 501st, etc) than I do with any industry organizations....
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  9. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I think it also depends on how invested the leadership is. I'm part of two different clown organizations. The first does a heavy amount of planning, and that's very much due to the folks at the top. They organize and network, and we have several events we go to every month.

    The second is more catered to clowns who operate on a more individual level. The mission seems to be more educational. I do learn quite a few magic tricks from them. But otherwise it's more of a monthly support group.
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  10. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I was using the word "fancy" to mean they spent a lot of money on the website only to use a fraction of the features.
  11. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Could someone please like this post? I want affirmation!
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  12. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Considering that anyone can go direct to them, I'm not sure why anyone would join an organization for access to, essentially, the same sort of policy.
  13. katriniac

    katriniac Well-Known Member

    I'm curious to know if this is a commonly-held opinion about the magazines put out by WCA, COAI, and ISCA.
    How do the rest of you feel about the magazines, and memberships in general?

    After I read Sir Toony's comment, I pulled out the latest issues from those 3 organizations and flipped through them for educational content. Here's what I found:
    WCA's "Clowning Around" 48 page magazine January 2017 contained 14 pages of education
    COAI's "The New Calliope" 48 page magazine January 2017 contained 13 pages of education
    ISCA's "Clown Alley" 28 page magazine February 2017 contained 2 pages of education
    The rest of the pages in these magazines had feature stories on members, alley reports, regional director's notes, convention information, ads, community calendar, etc.)

    (Full disclosure: I work for Pricilla Mooseburger Originals and Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp, so my perception of popular opinion is probably skewed)
    Pricilla submits educational articles each month to all three magazines, and has been doing so for the past three years. I know they are good stuff, because they are the same educational articles we put on our blog. And glancing at the other writers' articles, it seems like they are quite useful and well-written. So I would say that the educational content that is there is worth reading, for any level of skill/experience.

    As far as the benefits to being a member, it seems like they pretty much offer the same stuff. And these are the reasons I often hear as to why clowns join one or all of the organizations:
    • be able to join an alley (If you want to be in an affiliated alley, you must be a member)
    • scholarships to clown schools, camps, conventions, etc.
    • magazine subscription
    • access to annual convention
    • insurance
    Other than that, it's hard to pin down why a clown would join one organization over another. The one thing it seems that COAI has done to stand out a little bit is their new "perks" program. The magazine advertisers are asked to offer something that only COAI members can get. You can find this information at http://www.coai.org/page/Perks

    But I would be interested to hear from those who do belong to an association WHY you do.
  14. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    13 educational pages out of 48 pages leaves 35 pages of non-educational content. I think their goal should be to have 24 pages of educational content, but finding two or three additional articles to post each month might be a challenge. I would even count a few pages of clean jokes and riddles as educational as it might inspire someone.
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  15. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Perks was part of my plan for CFA (Circus Fans of America) when I was their membership chair. It also was an idea recommend by the organization's strategic plan. However, that's a challenging thing to put together for an industry which is so historically set upon selling everything it can to make every last dime, and never "giving anything away." I saw it, however, as a way for everyone to benefit by promoting product and encouraging additional sales all around.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  16. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    As to magazines, while a paper product may still be an effective tool for putting advertising in a person's hand, I think that as a membership benefit, it is a terribly outdated and expensive communication device that isn't, especially, an incentive.

    I would support these organizations shifting resources to the production of quality content of interest to audiences which can be shared over a wider course of media. That might include audio/video in addition to writing.

    Additionally, I think that offering support to endeavors which promote the art and education more extensively beyond itself and its membership would be worthwhile in raising these organizations' reputation.

    In theory, I believe that having an opportunity to organize over common concerns is important. In practice, it is difficult to understand how the longstanding clown organisations are offering much benefit in relation to cost.
  17. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I wonder if the generally elderly clientele will have an easy time navigating a website, though. No disrespect, but I just had a meetup with an older clown, and she was complaining about how to post things on her Facebook from her phone. (She made a comment that if she could go back to a flip phone, she would.) She's generally on the ball with a lot of things, but computers and the internet frighten and confuse her.

    Plus.... I think there's still a lot of benefit with print media. Online media is more and more becoming ephemeral. Put something online one day, and before the week is done we'll forget it was ever written. It will be tucked away somewhere in the archives, but no one will remember it's there. Magazines do provide a more accessible advantage, in the sense you can take it off the shelves, flip the the pages, and find something useful. Or, move on to the next magazine. It's why bookstores still survive while, say, music and DVD stores are going out of business.
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  18. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Yes, it's an interesting conundrum, isn't it?

    As for the older audience, I think that many of them are already online. In fact, you might be surprised by just how many use, at least, email and web browsing. Not all, given. And I know some who are on in years, but not elderly, who are just plain stubborn in their resistance to technology (to the frustration of their peers) while others fifteen or twenty years senior have such amazing intrigue and fascination in a very youthful sense. I don't necessarily argue for entire abandonment of paper, but perhaps it ought to be more limited, for certain efforts at publicity and for a higher cost to those that desire it. I do, however, believe that as long as the core endeavor and benefit (of most organizations) is to publish a magazine they are wasting time in necessary transitioning and wasting away. To that end, one also has to consider how contemporary audiences consume media. It isn't on paper. To survive and advance, there is a need to become digital and interactively engaged. Otherwise, there will be no new growth or relevancy, but only senior social services. Could it not be widely observed, in fact, that this is apparently what is going on in the traditional clowning community, in fact?

    As to the ephemeral sense, I don't think that it necessarily has to be so in how paper is preserved but digital isn't. The reality is that much paper fades and disintegrates, forgotten, also. And, what is preserved now is often digitalized. Previously, it was filmed for microfiche. So, this is a practical technology issue, which takes some getting used to, more than anything. Indeed, digitalization often makes searchability easier than before, enabling new sorts of connections to be made. If anything, the question will be how enabling or limiting the calculus which suggests things shall be.

    That said, admittedly the way in which one browses for information is distinct on paper from online. I was recently having such a discussion with an older neighbor about this. He still subscribes to the Tribune, and believes that I miss out on tons of things by not receiving the daily press on my porch. He can't see how anyone could be left out like that or how one might possibly get more information than what is printed in the historic journal. I noted that I can still read many of the same articles online as well as receive information from a wider array of resources. However, I admitted that while I might receive linked suggestions to other articles I might not have thought to check out or how I could search for information on google and see what pops up, I might not have all the news as easily categorized by section topic nor happen across an interesting article that just happens to be on page three.

    I suppose one would have to worry about both the paper publication and the mobile device getting wet and ruined in the rain. But, at least the little slice of tree with ink on it doesn't run out of battery power and require recharging, even if the letters, themselves, run and smudge out.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
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  19. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I too wonder about print vs online. Online can be much faster. I can read something now that wouldn't arrive until sometime in the future when the printed publication is delivered. That said, I think more care goes into articles that are in print publications vs the online. When I was first getting started, I collected as many older magazines as possible (people would bring them to alley meetings and conventions to give away for free). I have yet to see COAI or WCA become an archive for reading old articles (Maybe, I just haven't visited their websites to see if they have anything online.

    I maintained my subscription to the Washington Post until some time last year. Although, I hardly ever read anything in the paper before it ended up in the recycling bin. I got most of my news from the radio or online sources (Including the Washington Post's website). The one thing I feel I miss online are the local ads. The things I seem to see online are either based on a recent Google search or ads for government contracts (and I don't have any purchase authority). The print newspaper would have a bigger variety of ads from restaurants, car dealerships, and shopping centers. The Sunday coupons are the biggest lost item from not subscribing to the newspaper.
  20. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    As to care of craft, it really is a matter of editing. That needs to be taken more seriously both in online endeavors, generally, and membership based quasi newsletter type publications, specifically (even in print.) Ultimately, I think that the challenge there is one of professionalism. A problem which even the traditional press is facing are shrinking budgets. So, they lay off experienced writers, ask reporters to take their own photos with inferior equipment, and such stuff. But these things all take experience to do them well. And, it is difficult to get better if you don't do it enough. But that takes time to refine, which in turn requires compensation. But, if budgets just don't exist and publications rely upon volunteers, then all you get is a lot of mediocrity.

    As to timeliness, a publication which comes out six times a year, for instance, and requires a long lead time really can't communicate effectively on anything which requires immediate attention in our instant online world. As such, I think that such journals need to focus upon what they can do best, which is longer form, in depth features which aren't as sensitive to the news cycle and can still offer interesting and informative articles in this way. Of course, such can also be shared online.

    On the other hand, reviews of a show with a short run require the sort of immediate buzz that can only be offered via social media and daily news or online journals that can get the information up fast, offering an effective quote or some photos/video that can be used for promotion and advertising. If your review or reflection upon attending an event doesn't see print until six weeks after the show closed, or once it has passed many towns already, it doesn't help much.

    "We had a great time at the convention!" Well, ok. See you in ten months?
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