Whose bright idea was it to send clowns to refugee camps?   KIDS, of course!

Yes, children really did invent Clowns Without Borders.


Tortell Poltrona, founder of the Clowns Without Borders movement

This is our story…


In 1993, in a school in Catalan, children were writing to young refugees from the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1995) through a a volunteer programme.  The refugees from the Istria Peninsula in Croatia told the children the thing they missed the most was having fun, laughing and playing.  So…the Spanish kids set about raising funds to pay for the local clown Tortell Poltrona and his troupe to go to Croatia. Eventually, they raised enough money for the clowns (and themselves) to go on this amazing journey.

The performance was a huge success and surpassed everyones expectations by attracting an audience of more than 700 children. This proved to Poltrona that there was a real need to create opportunities for children to come together simply to laugh and play, and so, Clowns Without Borders was born.  In the first year [1993-1994], 12 expeditions to the Balkans took place, and even the UNHCR and Spanish troops serving there started to help by provided transport to help reach more children then the clowns went to Sarajevo…the rest as they say the rest is history.

Today there are twelve Clowns Without Borders chapters in different countries. In 2013 alone, 81 projects were organised in 40 countries with over 11,00 performances for more over 300,000 children and communities. 365 professional artists volunteered their skills.  That’s a clown for every day of the year.

The UK is the newest chapter to join.