Open letter to ACE re Norwich Puppet Theatre

Dear Executive and Non-Executive directors of Arts Council England

Those of us who practice and support the distinct artform of puppetry in England have had  struggle to find opportunities to develop our skills and be inspired in this often very misunderstood and marginalised artform.

One of only two dedicated building-based puppet theatres in all of England is Norwich Puppet Theatre. For many decades this place has been a hive of excellence and innovation in puppetry, out of which many of the current leaders in the industry have found opportunities to train and see great performances as well as get experience and encouragement. Some of England’s best directors, educators, designer/makers and performers in puppetry have all benefited from the opportunities Norwich Puppet Theatre has provided, and many people, young and old, have experienced the magic of puppetry by attending as audience members. A great number of residents of East Anglia have been switched on to the arts by exposure to the performances and activities of Norwich Puppet Theatre.

Recently Norwich Puppet Theatre has struggled to maintain the activity and standing that it once had and now has had to launch a fundraising drive to continue their activities into 2017.

Those of us who support the puppetry industry, as well as the wider industry of theatre and the performing arts implore you to make sure that this vital asset in the infrastructure of puppetry – recognised by all of us as strategically important for the health of the artform in England – is not allowed to go dark, and to support every effort made by Norwich Puppet Theatre to recover and thrive.

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Open letter to ACE re Norwich Puppet Theatre

42 thoughts on “Open letter to ACE re Norwich Puppet Theatre

  1. annaingleby says:

    Anna Ingleby – Well said Adam! One of the too rare precious building blocks of the fragile British puppetry infrastructure – a multi-disciplinary art form which nurtures new audiences, encompasses all ages and promotes all kinds of life skills too…

  2. Would be tragic to loose this building. They have kept going against all odds, but deserve funding and support for the brilliant rescorces and opportunities they offer.

  3. A very valuable organisation for the arts in East Anglia – many people’s first introduction to puppetry theatre, design, and performance. Mervyn Millar, chair, Puppet Centre Trust

  4. Jude Orange says:

    NPT is an invaluable resource for this fine city. It is a portal through which young and very young children can step into a different world; one of imagination with disbelief suspended. Not forgetting all the adult work that goes on too. I have been moved to tears more than once during performances at this theatre.

  5. Peter MacDonald says:

    Norwich Puppet Theatre cannot be allowed to go dark – their theatre programming and the professional development opportunities they facilitate are a vital part of the UK’s artistic landscape.

  6. Zoe Hockings says:

    Such a special place. My children have enjoyed so many times here and continue to love the workshops. It must be saved!

  7. Mark Mander says:

    I had my first job working in profesional puppetry at the Norwich Puppet Theatre and toured with the company for several years. Later i returned to the venue and produced three events there and most recently worked with a team on Beauty and the Beast. I have just finished co-presenting an 8 part series of ‘Live From The London Palladium’ for ITV as the puppet character ‘Alice’. From Schools touring to mainstream TV work , my career would not have happened without the skills and contacts i developed at this special venue. I would call NPT unique- but the Little Angel Theatre is similar in its aims. So thats TWO theatres dedicated to puppetry in England. Hardly at saturation point.
    When i first joined the NPT it provided a rare chance to meet and work with other puppeteers. Since the development of Social Media its possible to get to ‘know’ puppeteers from all over the world- but the NPT still provides a place for puppeteers to meet in reality. It should be noted how many puppeteers living abroad know of the NPT. It has an international reputation for excellence.
    The NPT has consistently produced in house and touring shows of the highest calibre under the tenure-ship all of its Artistic Directors and has welcomed the best in national and international puppetry.
    Money is tight – but it wouldn’t take a vast sum to ensure the survival of this valuable asset to England’s cultural scene. One thing is certain, it would take a considerably larger amount of money to try to build a replacement , should the theatre be allowed to fold. Of course its reputation has taken decades of good work to create, and could not be replaced.

  8. Puppet Animation Scotland has always greatly valued NPT’s consistent support and encouragement of Scottish puppeteers, programming their work, as well as providing regular employment opportunities through its in-house productions. NPT is such a strategically important focus for the whole of the U.K’s community of practitioners, and we should all find as many different practical ways as we can to demonstrate our wholehearted support for this invaluable and venerable institution.

  9. Brian Hibbitt says:

    To start something is difficult, you need courage and vision. In 1980 the Arts Council supported the vision and had the courage to contribute towards the establishment of this unique theatre. Sadly today it is all too easy to kill something for short term financial reasons. Hopefully there is still time for second thoughts.

  10. Collette Austin – This is a centre of puppetry and cultural excellence. Centres like this enable professional development for puppeteers and introduce potential new puppeteers and artists to the art-form of puppetry as well as showcasing the puppetry performances themselves. It is essential that places like this outside London be supported as, believe it or not, the majority of people do not live in London. Norfolk does not have as many theatrical venues as other parts of the country and needs to keep all that it already has.

  11. Thanks for writing this timely letter Adam. Though the theatre is good at raising revenues, this is currently mainly by hiring itself out as a venue. It has been a crucial asset to puppet theatre, a networking hub for the industry, and a vital space for the production, teaching, and showing of puppet work. It deserves national funding.

  12. Mark Esaias says:

    Mark Esaias – Great letter that perfectly encompasses the extensive reach and contribution of Norwich Puppet Theatre to artists and audiences. I’m one of the countless performers who can’t imagine my career without having this theatre to widely broaden my perspective outside of ‘learning on the job’ – an experience for many a puppeteer.

  13. Iestyn Evans says:

    Iestyn Evans – Norwich Puppet Theatre was one of my first inspirations. Simply wouldn’t have become a puppeteer without those experiences.

  14. Signing in support of the Theatre and its work which at a personal level has contributed to my development as a puppeteer, theatre maker and performer in a far reaching and meaningful manner
    by hosting many puppetry skills training opportunities and shows.

  15. George Ogilvie says:

    Though not a puppeteer myself I know many as both work acquaintances and friends and I share their dismay at the thought that Norwich Puppet Theatre may be forced to go dark. This must not be allowed to happen.

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