SARASOTA - It seems clown threats aren't going away soon. There are reports of threats from California to Wisconsin. How are these cases impacting legitimate clowns, and what about the circus?
Clowns are trained to entertain and to make you laugh.
“Clowns with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus are dedicated to their crafts. Their goal has always been to bring smiles to families who come to the circus,” says Stephen Payne, VP of Communications for Feld Entertainment.
And legitimate clowns don’t scare families like the creepy clowns scaring many in Florida and across the country.
Feld Entertainment, the parent company for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baile, is based in Palmetto and says attendance is still up and that families know their clowns are dedicated to good humor.
Payne says, “We really do think the creepy clown phenomenon, as it’s become known today, is something that’s temporarily a distraction from the real important work clowns do every day.”
Karen Bell has been a clown for 30 years. She says, “I’ve spent my life developing an art form. That’s the difference - mine is an art form, while they are being mean and nasty. These are not clowns; they’re bullies dressed up with masks to scare people.”
Today she’s a teaching artist with Sarasota and Manatee County schools through the Circus Arts Conservatory. “
"We tie physics and physical science to the circus,” explains Bell.
She teaches a program called the Miraculous Marvelous Circus Machine. She says, “You can’t be on the tight wire without friction or you'll slide off the tight wire. Kids retain the information longer, understand it better.”
Bell says she has clown friends who are losing money because of the fake clowns.
“Bookings are dropping. There are fewer jobs out there right now,” she says.
All because some people are using her profession for bad instead of good.