Send the Emergency Circus to Puerto Rico

For: Emergency Circus
New Orleans, LA
Organizer: Clay Mazing
of $7,777 goal
92% Complete
Raised by 96 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

The Project

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Mariadevastated the US island of Puerto Rico. Months later, citizens remain without power, clean water, and shelter. Recovery efforts from the US government have been minimal compared to other disasters of similar magnitude in the US. The New York Times reports, "Public health officials warn that Puerto Rico is teetering on the edge of a full fledged mental health crisis." Even as access to necessities like electricity and clean water slowly return to the island, the trauma remains.

After bringing circus joy and spectacle to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and fire shelters in Northern California, the Emergency Circus has been called upon once again to bring our unique brand of healing through laughter and inspiration to the situation in Puerto Rico.  During the month of January, the Emergency Circus will circumnavigate the entire island with a three-tiered plan of action.

  1. Perform We will team up with local artists to visit hospitals, shelters, and public spaces to perform interactive and inspirational circus shows. We will teach workshops to build community and share laughter to elevate and enliven.
  2. Activate We are partnering with local group, Taller Liberta, to establish and sustain a creative community space on the west side of the island in Mayagüez. This center will host workshops and gatherings of all kinds for years to come.
  3. Document We will release episodic adventures highlighting the hopes and frustrations of the Puerto Rican people in their own words. We will strive to share an unfiltered observation of what's really happening.

The People

Over the past 5 years the Emergency Circus has been delivering joy to hospitals, homeless shelters, refugee camps, disaster areas, and other under-circused places in over 30 countries. We know from first hand experience the positive impact this kind of interactive spectacle can create. This project will be comprised of 5 main performers including some Puerto Rican artists.

  • Clay Mazing: Humanitarian clown, musician, circus artist, writer.
  • Karla Mi Lugo: Puerto Rican videographer, clown, musician.
  • Vanessa Vortex: Professional circus performer, musician from Manhattan.
  • Robin Lara: Professional Bay Area circus performer, humanitarian clown, musician.
  • Chicle: Circus artist and humanitarian clown from and currently living in Puerto Rico.

The Proceeds

This project simply cannot occur without the generous support of people like you who believe in the healing power of laughter and empathy. All tax-deductible donations we raise will benefit people on the island. Travel to, from, and around the island will be our main expense. Every effort will be made to support the local economies we visit. Money for our food, transportation, and accommodations will go directly into the communities we visit. Every mosquito net, water filtration system, and generator we use will be remain on the island to be used by those in need. Any funds we raise beyond our initial needs will go directly to the creative community space we will establish on the west side of the island.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to this  cause. 

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 1, 2018


Posted on January 1, 2018

First, as you land in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you notice all of the blue roofs in the city belo, an interesting and beautiful choice But why? As the plane decends, however, you begin to realize those roofs are not roofs but blue tarps covering walls. You can't help but imagine the fear one feels when the wet whistling wind would rip that roof right off. 

The mainland contingent of the Emergency Circus, Robin, Karla, and Clay, all arrived within hours of each other and were picked up in the evening but Arturo in the big white van. Our local clown host showed a tiny ceviche shop as we talked of our plans for this month. 

Half of the people even in this city are without power. Arturo has only had his for three weeks. The streetlights shine darkness, the traffic signals, blank. People have to just try to make eye contact at intersections and have been for months. We've only seen one accident because of it so far but we've only stayed here one night. The cops are on strike from not being paid. 

This morning we woke and hit the phones hard, solidifying our shows. We walked through San Juan, and surveyed much damage. The palms all have one to no branches. Even McDonald's remains battered and broken. Other stores seem perfectly fine and bandas play loudly outside colorful alleyway cafes. Woman control the drums with their large and quick dance moves. The people, still friendly and lively, seem ready to move forward. 

We walked with Chicle (means gum), our other local clown member who's joining the tou,  down the steps of a cliff right next to downtown. La Perla, the pearl. It's seen as the most dangerous part of town. Tourists are advised to avoid it but we want very badly to book a show in this barrio because we know it gets little circus and the storm hit it hard. 

We skip speaking with the stumbling man with a dog on our narrow staircase entrance. But a little further in we find two little girls, each with twin babydolls in double decker carriages and their accompanying adults. Chicle pops out his eyeball halfway out of its socket, one of his super powers, and proceeds to speak with the parents. I put on my blue clown nose and those little eyeballs that turn my hand into a puppet. The little girls laugh as the puppet hand sniffs and kisses their baby dolls. They keep telling me to put my fake teeth in and make funny faces. It turns out the first person we meet is Vice President of an organization that works in la perla. They are excited to have us back and we book a show for the 14th. 

Explosions and celebratory gunshots fill the streets of San Juan tonight. It's a brand New Year for Puerto Rico. It's time for the people to be recognized and held as a valuable aspect of the world and this country. Tomorrow all the clowns train together and build our show. Then we'll take to the hospitals, shelters, and rural pueblitos of this rich port world. 

Oh thanks for getting us here btw. We have almost reached our goal. There's just a couple days left in our campaign If you know anyone who wants to invest in infusing this new year with circus joy and loving empathy. 

Posted on December 30, 2017


Posted on December 30, 2017

The Clowns are in the air!

Thank you all so much! We made it close to our goal and we are on the way. Stay tuned to our pics and video on Facebook and Instagram. Sign up for our mailing list at There's still time to donate. The more we get the better we can give. Im going into airplane mode right now. 🚨🎪❤️ 

-Clay Mazing!

Posted on December 14, 2017


Posted on December 14, 2017

Thanks, Keep it up, and Opps!

Thank you everyone! Because of you our momentum continues to rise. We've received lots of donations from compassionate individuals like yourselves. Our message is reaching far and wide. More and more individuals and communities in Puerto Rico are asking for a visit from the circus. Recently, the Today Show even contacted us to inquire about a feature segment. You're part of something big!  

Keep it Up: All that said, we still need more support! Currently about 1/4 of our ultimate goal has been achieved. We know you believe in this project and many of you have already shared the fact that you've donated but let's keep up the good work. Post, share, email, and talk to people in actual existence. Together we can raise the awareness and bring the glorious light of circus joy to the struggling people of Puerto Rico.

Opps. Most of you received an email recently from our awesome fiscal sponsor Many Mouths One Stomach. This emailed thanked you for your donation to the All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona. Don't worry. Your funds are going to Puerto Rico! This was just an accidental automatic reply. MMOS is our fiscal sponsor or umbrella organization. They do lots of wonderful events focused on communal healing through spectacle and interaction. They also issue tax deduction receipts to people who donate to the Emergency Circus. The money first goes through them so they can issue the receipt and then goes to sending circus professionals to bring joy all over the world. It's tax stuff. You should receive a follow up email soon with a tax receipt. Any questions?

Great! Now get out there and spread the word.

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