Rote Nasen, Austria

Monica Culen, Austria

MCulen   Cofounder and Chairwoman 2011-2020

Monica Culen, an Austrian national, was one of the first founders and protagonists of the Healthcare Clown Movement in Europe. As early as 1991, Monica was inspired by a LIFE Magazine article about Michael Christensen who visited hospitalized children as a clown in New York. Soon after, Monica Culen started setting up one of the first Hospital Clown Programs in Austria and promoted the concept in the Netherlands and Belgium. In 1994, together with the artist Giora Seeliger, she founded ROTE NASEN Clowndoctors in Austria, which soon crossed borders so that by now RED NOSES International operates in 11 countries in Europe and Middle East.

As early as the mid 1990’es RED NOSES invited LE RIRE MEDECIN, France and the KlinikClowns Bayern e.V., Germany, to participate in one of the first Cultural Cooperation Projects funded by the European Commission. Watching the ever-growing movement of Hospital Clowning, Monica Culen already started to pursue her vision in 2001 about a Federation with Fondation Theodora, Switzerland, and CliniClowns, Netherlands.

Finally in 2010, eight of the most advanced European Organisations at that time – ROTE NASEN, Le Rire Médecin France, CliniClowns Netherlands, Hearts&Minds Scotland, Fondation Theodora Switzerland, Soccorso Clown Italy, Payasospital Spain and KlinikClowns Bayern, Germany - gathered to develop a clear mission and structure for the European Federation of Hospital Clown Organisations. In March 2011, efhco aisbl was registered in Brussels, Belgium and Monica Culen elected its Chairwoman.

In the 10 years of service as Chair for the Federation, Monica’s main priorities were to unite the European Healthcare Clown movement, to support young organizations and to form platforms for know-how exchange and common training in order to develop professional quality criteria for the whole clowning scene.

When Monica stepped down in October 2020, efhco had been built up as a strong federation and a very motivated and skilled next generation took over to carry the movement towards future dynamic levels of development in Healthcare Clowning.

For three decades, Monica has been one of the driving forces in the healthcare clown world, having such a convincing charisma and being both dynamically attentive and inventive for the mental wellbeing of vulnerable people. She always envisioned and went for a cooperation of clown doctors on a European and international level and for the strategic development of clown doctors’ education & quality training plus the professionalism of healthcare clowning as a valuable part of each country’s healthcare system.