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About Wise Fool New Mexico
It is Wise Fool New Mexico's mission to ignite imagination, build community, and promote social justice through performances and hands-on experiences in the arts of circus, puppetry, and theatre.
Changing lives, one circus at a time
Each year Wise Fool provides 2000 New Mexicans with hands-on arts experiences and performs for over 10,000 people across New Mexico and the U.S.
- We teach circus arts as a vehicle for youth and adults to build confidence, learn and practice teamwork and mutual respect, develop trust in themselves and others, make friendships and connections across perceived social barriers, and discover their ability to shine in life as well as on stage.
- We work to increase access to the arts throughout Northern New Mexico and beyond by running low-cost, high-quality arts programs at diverse venues including schools, libraries, community centers, prisons, and public celebrations, in rural and underserved areas, and onsite at our Santa Fe Studio and the Penasco Theatre.
- We perform professional and community-based theatrical productions at local events, and at festivals and diverse venues across the United States and Canada.
Why circus and puppetry?
Wise Fool operates on the belief that circus and puppetry are inherently revolutionary art forms that empower individuals and enrich lives. Circus and puppetry mix visual and performing arts through colorful costumes and settings, graceful skills, and storytelling. This unique combination draws in audience members of all ages and walks of life. Add a social message to these performances, and you have a perfect recipe to spark both wonder and dialogue in the members of your audience. Over the past fourteen years, Wise Fool has created shows about social issues such as censorship, water rights and land use, immigration and borders, and domestic violence.
Wise Fool's hands-on programs focus on engaging adults and youth in arts experiences while teaching valuable life skills and building community. The process of learning circus skills and puppetry is not only fun, it helps instill self confidence, teaches teamwork and mutual respect, and encourages trust in oneself and others. Circus is a non-competitive physical activity that encourages positive relationships with one’s body through balance, physical strength, and healthy risk-taking. Wise Fool teachers, all of whom attend annual unlearning oppression trainings, create a safe and supportive environment for students of all ages to take risks, connect with one another, and exceed their perceived personal limits. Wise Fool leads trust-building and group-negotiation games as part of every program, and urges students to break free, tell their stories, and celebrate their unique self-expression through performance, often with profound, moving, and hilarious results.
In 1998, a small collective of women - including artists from Wise Fool Puppet Intervention in San Francisco, Northern New Mexican activists, and myriad others - began exploring puppetry and circus arts as a vehicle to promote social justice in New Mexico. In 2000, Wise Fool New Mexico was officially born. A decade later, our organization continues to offer high-quality performances and outreach built upon our enduring core values of community, diversity, and social justice. Our main studio is located in Santa Fe. In 2000, Wise Fool established programming at the Peñasco Theatre in order to support the rural Peñasco community by providing consistent, positive activities in a familiar and empowering environment. Our performances and workshops focus on creative process, collaboration, and dialogue as the well-proven means by which our projects educate, strengthen and build community, cross dividing lines, and boost understanding, personal pride, and self determination. We encourage participants to become active in creating the positive change they seek.
Wise Fool New Mexico received the prestigious Geronima Cruz Montoya "Pinon" Award for Arts and Humanities from the Santa Fe Community Foundation (2008), was voted Best Local Performing Arts Group by the readers of the Santa Fe Reporter (2009-2013), and received the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts (2005).
“We count ourselves fortunate to have talented, socially conscious people like you in our community.” - Billie Blair, past president, Santa Fe Community Foundation
“Wise Fool’s beautiful and talented mostly female group of performers… guarantees that your eyes will pop, your mouth will gape, and most of all – you yourself will feel a sense of unlimited potential… Wise Fool’s performers are astounding acrobats who can perform breathtaking high-flying maneuvers as well as hilarious and provocative clowning….” - Local Flavor Magazine
"Wise Fool programs have given [my daughter] confidence, dexterity, team skills, life skills, etc. I cannot express how important Wise Fool NM is to the youth of our community." - Parent of a Wise Fool Youth Student
“You all create environment that is simultaneously exhilarating and safe. The bravery and enthusiasm that you model – as teachers and community members – permits us to go big places.” - Wise Fool Adult Student
Wise Fool at TEDx
Check out this inspiring presentation by Amy Christian, WF Artistic Director, about how theatre has the power to ignite social change:
The reality of contemporary society requires a new narrative. One that includes and celebrates the creative visioning that accurately reflects the many extraordinary voices that comprise it. Within artistic expression lies the transformative capacity for resilience and healing. We recognize the full diversity of the students, families and communities we serve in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, immigration status, physical ability, body type, body size, religious or political beliefs. We honor our collective histories of struggle against discrimination and other forms of oppression. We value collaborative arts education efforts that strive to promote community wellness, multi-racial coalition building and progressive social and economic justice. As an organization we commit to our continuing education about the various issues that seek to divide us.
In our mission we say that Wise Fool seeks to "promote social justice." Our organization's definition of social justice is: the equitable distribution of resources and information; space for the human spirit to thrive; and realization of the dignity and health of all beings, environments, and communities. Each year Wise Fool holds a mandatory unlearning oppression workshop for all staff, board, teachers, and performers.
- To impart life skills and to build self-determination in individuals through positive experiences in the arts of circus, puppetry and physical theatre, providing participants with experiences in accomplishment, self-esteem, responsibility, trust, significance, respect, and teamwork.
- To promote dialogue and teach communication, problem solving, conflict resolution and cooperation skills through collaborative and educational arts programming.
- To use art as a vehicle to stand against discrimination and oppression based on race, religion, class, ability, sexual orientation, and gender and to promote education, understanding, and tolerance.
- To reintegrate art into daily life by making it accessible to all, especially remote, low income, and underserved communities.
- To preserve, continue, and further the folk arts of puppetry, circus, street theatre, and storytelling.
- To provide visual support for community and cultural events and social change organizations.
- To offer artistic spaces in which Santa Feans can create, dialogue, dream, and transform ourselves and our community into that which we envision.