Our Mission

Through the art of the theatrical clown and the one-ring circus, My Nose Turns Red cultivates a supportive environment that inspires youth to challenge themselves, develop essential life skills, and engage audiences.

My Nose Turns Red (MNTR) is the only non-profit organization in the Greater Cincinnati area dedicated to youth circus. Every year MNTR provides year-round training and performance opportunities for over 450 youth in the art of the one-ring circus and the theatrical clown. We believe that youth circus is a magical blend of theatre, movement, physical fitness, imagination, and childlike wonder. Our instructors blend the ability to play with the precision of circus arts to create programs where youth learn teamwork and trust in a non-competitive environment. From beginners’ classes to advanced performance programs, MNTR provides a safe arena for young people to take risks and challenge themselves.


My Nose Turns Red was founded in 1984 when co-founders Jean St. John and Steve Roenker began touring as theatrical clowns Juice and Shootang, bringing their art form to thousands of children through school performances, workshops, residencies, and community performances. In 1997, MNTR created a circus program designed to give youth the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of circus training and performing.

My Nose Turns Red at a Glance

  • Incorporated in 1984 as My Nose Turns Red Theatre Company by Jean St. John and Steve Roenker.
  • Co-founders presented clown-theatre performances throughout the Eastern and Mid-West United States region in schools, theatres, festivals, and fairs and conducted artist residencies.
  • Juice and Shootang are the names of their clown characters. Their shows revolved around their clown characters’ relationships with each other, their props, and their audience.
  • They began the Youth Circus program in 1997 through a 21st Century Grant in Covington and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. 
  • The youth circus program grew out of a desire to work with the same youth over a more extended time vs. the residency model and present their work in venues with full production values.
  • Today, the youth circus program serves over 450 students per year at their home base at the Evendale Cultural Arts Center and pre-pandemic after-school circus arts programs at Sherwood Elementary, Hyde Park Elementary, Woodford Paideia Academy, Roberts Paideia Academy, Mt. Washington Elementary, and Fairview-German Language School.
  • Programming serves children, ages four through young adults.
  • MNTR has programming at the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home and two developmental delayed adult programs: LADD and Tall Institute.
  • MNTR is part of the national Social Circus Network through the American Youth Circus Organization and Cirque du Monde.
  • The network is a resource for social circus organizations to serve under-resourced youth.
  • MNTR has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, William O. Purdy Foundation, Sutphin Family Foundation, General Mills, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation for their social circus programs.
  • MNTR receives three-year Sustaining Impact Funding from ArtsWave
  • MNTR has two full-time employees and four part-time coaches.
  • MNTR has an eight-member board of directors.
  • Board meets bimonthly via Zoom.
  • Is developing a new three-year strategic plan based on our new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access policy.
  • Engaged Dr. Imelda Emenaker, an educational outcome-based consultancy with REaCHaLL LLC, in 2019-2020. 
  • We engaged the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center in 2022 to help gauge the sense of belonging,
  • MNTR’s 2024 budget of $172,031.
  • MNTR is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.
  • Tax ID is 31-1203908.
“My Nose Turns Red is a wonderful addition to our daughter’s life. She has developed physical strength, balance and poise, in addition to self-confidence, all while having fun. Never one for team sports, becoming a member of the MNTR youth circus allows her to work both individually and in groups, without the focus on “winning” and “competition.“
Nancy C. Elder, MD, MSPH
Associate Professor and Director of Research Department of Family and Community Medicine