Through grants, donations and the like, the very organized Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit paid us pretty well considering we were having so much fun. They had a contract with a local children’s hospital, so we were exclusive to that hospital but not on their payroll. We got to make a difference in a child’s life, give the family members a break and provide hospital employees with a bit of fun during their shift. For me, it was the best job in the world, with one fatal flaw: it would never be full-time work.
The hospital was very generous with available shifts; we were there almost daily, but my day job situation changed, so I picked up another medical skill in school and returned to regular full-time nursing. After a year and a half of not performing as a hospital clown, I realized that it still called my name. I wanted to be hired to do it once a week for any local facility that would have me, but it was not in their budget. Since I was badly bitten by the hospital clowning bug, I decided to do it as a volunteer.
During the time I was still looking for a new hospital to perform in, it occurred to me that I should do some research and contact only the facilities that do not have their own resident entertainers. (As the first resident clown in my new hospital, I even got a little local TV spot when I began!)
Some places like to have a variety of characters for their young patients so you may be welcome, but some prefer their exclusive performers. In some cases it is also a matter of branding. Your image may be family-friendly, but the organization may already have an entire marketing structure set up which includes their character or clown.
If you are striking out on your own (provided you have received proper training), make sure your proposal is clear, concise and professional. Develop your own unique performance style, but do your research online and avoid venturing where you may not be needed or wanted.
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds