Who We Are

Wise Fool is a beloved and award-winning non-profit organization and social circus at the center of Santa Fe’s community arts scene.
Wise Fool serves 2,000 youth and adults with hands-on activities and 14,000 audience members annually with high-quality experiences built upon our core values of community, arts accessibility, and social justice.

Our Mission

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.

As a pioneer in the emerging North American Social Circus movement and the only contemporary circus arts company in New Mexico, Wise Fool is further evolving circus as an art form by developing quality productions, professional artists, and expert teachers for circus-based arts curriculums.

Encouraging audiences to jump the bounds of possibility and recognize that we are all capable of the extraordinary, we offer first-hand explorations and skill-building experiences in which participants discover and develop their own connection to the arts.

Our History

In 1997 artists from Wise Fool Puppet Intervention in California joined with Clowns Without Borders and New Mexico based artist/activists to bring a puppet circus tour to Zapatista villages in Chiapas, Mexico.

Inspired by this collaboration, a small collective of women artists began offering hands-on experiences in puppetry and circus arts as a vehicle to build community and promote social justice. Thus Wise Fool New Mexico was born. Out of garages and in old horse corrals we built grassroots circuses, giant puppet processions and taught our first summer circus camps.

Alessandra Ogren, a Wise Fool NM founder performing in Chiapas, Mexico, Photo by Jaime Smith, 1997
Behind The Name

In medieval times, advisors to the kings were often unable to address controversial matters without fear of retribution. However, the court jester, or wise fool, could draw upon disarming spectacle and humor to inform the views of those in power.

Over the past sixteen years, Wise Fool has been utilizing this “back door” approach to opening dialogue in otherwise touchy situations in the creation of productions about social issues such as censorship, water rights and land use, domestic violence, immigration and borders.

Our Approach

Wise Fool programs are designed:

To Impart Life Skills

and to build self-determination in individuals through positive 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 collaboration.

To Use Art As a Vehicle

to stand against discrimination and oppression based on race, religion, class, ability, sexual orientation, or gender; and to promote education, understanding, and growth towards a more just society.

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 to create, dream, and transform as individuals and communities.


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.

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 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.

Each year Wise Fool holds a mandatory unlearning oppression workshop for all staff, board, teachers, and performers.

Wise Fool defines Social Justice as:


Wise Fool believes that the arts are essential to leading a full and productive life, and works to make art available to all people, including those with physical and mental disabilities.

Wise Fool will continue to exercise leadership in enhancing opportunities for full participation in the arts by people with disabilities and assure their needs are taken into account in all elements of our programs, performances, and studio space.

Please contact us at mail@wisefoolnm.org to request accommodations for classes or performances.

Acclaim for What We Do

Wise Fool is truly strengthening this community through creativity, art, theater, and powerful messages.

Billie Blair

Former President of the Santa Fe Community Foundation

You all create an 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.

Adult Student

Wise Fool

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.

Scene from Backstage at the Circus.

Of Wise Fool Youth Student

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

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