Final curtain for Luxembourg's hospital clowns
(CS) The “Île aux clowns”, a group of clowns visiting patients in hospitals and nursing homes, will take its final bow on Friday, after it emerged that the group can no longer be funded.
The “Île aux clowns” is associated with the “Objectif Plein Emploi” (OPE), a network aimed at helping unemployed people back into work, which is being dissolved after facing bankruptcy.
In April, the Luxembourg state had cut ties with the OPE after it had emerged that the group had overclaimed state subsidies. As the network is now being dissolved, the “Île aux clowns”, managed through the OPE's Archipel centre, is also facing its end.
Since 2005, the group of professional clowns has been visiting children in hospitals, as well as patients in rehabilitation centres or elderly people in nursing homes. Ten people have been working at the “Île aux clowns” to bring a bit of laughter and joy to those who need it most.
In search of public support
However, the clowns don't plan on simply giving up. Noël Heinzmann of the “Île” said to the “Luxemburger Wort” that letters would be sent to the Labour, Health and Family Ministries asking for support.
The group has drawn up a budget, estimating that it will need financial support for about a year, as well as drafting new statutes.
Heinzmann commented that it was necessary to keep the momentum going before the artists involved in the project currently seek new jobs. Meanwhile, he ruled out that the project could continue on a voluntary basis. Apart from a need for professional artists with a very specific skill set, the clowns currently work on a full-time basis due to the high demand for their services.
However, whether a solution will be found to save the “Île” remains uncertain, even though the popularity and importance of the group has grown steadily over the years.
Reporting by Christine François