Northwest Puppet Center Programs
Understanding that puppetry should be kept as a living tradition (not just a museum relic), performances are integral. The puppet center offers a series of weekday performances for school groups and a season of weekend shows for family audiences. While performing for kids is wonderful, promoting the art of puppetry demands cultivating greater appreciation amongst adult audiences too. For the past decade, an effort to resurrect baroque marionette operas has helped build this broader audience base. These annual operas have become highly anticipated cultural happenings amongst the loyal following of cognoscenti and have drawn critical acclaim from San Francisco to Berlin.
Educational programs allow for active participation and the sharing of more in-depth knowledge. Workshops give kids the chance for creative expression and problem solving while also gaining greater appreciation for world cultures. For adults, master-classes impart more specialized skills, such as marionette woodcarving. Lecture/demonstrations give cultural/historical insight and technical details of different styles. To avoid the potentially dull lecture, examples of puppets are shown throughout (especially important when presenting to a group of school kids).
Museum exhibits allow historic and cultural artifacts to be seen. Unlike other performing arts, our "actors" remain to tell their stories to future generations. It is an ancient and universal art dating to prehistoric times and found on every continent (except Antarctica). In America, puppetry can first be found with Native American traditions and later with the waves of immigrants. Aside from enjoying the sculptural art of puppetry for its visual aesthetic, this rich legacy tracing migrations, societal changes and technical development makes the museum component an increasingly important part of this organization.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In Jan. 2010, Northwest Puppet Center was selected to receive the finest private collection of puppets in the nation, The Cook/Marks Collection After considering several institutions, it is a great honor that the collector, along with a panel of advisors, has decided upon our organization. It totals 5,000 puppets encompassing many global traditions and spanning a couple centuries. When Smithsonian organized a nationally touring puppet exhibit in 1980, they borrowed from this collection. With this in-kind contribution, Northwest Puppet Center is rapidly growing into a world-class resource. By the end of 2011, at least 1,000 of the puppets will be transferred and the remaining 4,000 will continue to migrate here as they are prepped for transfer over the next couple years.
This is a very exciting development but at the same time, we are faced with the challenges of increasing demands on our limited resources. The organization expected an eventual need for additional space but this massive collection has pushed this to the forefront. We plan to acquire an additional support facility and make enhancements at the puppet center to improve public access and improve the programming capabilities. Towards this end, a visionary lead gift of $250,000 has been pledged by The Jacqueline Marks Fund of the California Community Foundation.
Please consider making your gift to help provide stability and growth for Northwest Puppet Center. With the help of our community, we are able to preserve these outstanding cultural resources and continue to provide joyful programs for generations to come. Thank you.