Meeting One – a summary for puppeteers
The first meeting was held on the 8th May 2015 at Nottingham Trent University.
Present were: Joy Haynes (Chair, Norwich Puppet Theatre), Sue Buckmaster (Theatre-Rites), Alison Duddle (Horse & Bamboo), Slavka Jovanovic (Little Angel Theatre), Mervyn Millar (by skype, Significant Object), Sean Myatt (Nottingham Trent University). Members unable to attend: Corina Bona (Bristol), Darren East (Unpacked). Invited for this meeting was Jeremy Bidgood (visiting, British UNIMA); invited to observe were two students from Nottingham Trent, Izzy Hollis and Nicky Charlesworth. Also attending: Bethan Tomlinson (Co-ordinator from Puppet Centre) For more information on the Consortium members contact Bethan Tomlinson.
The consortium hopes to have an open and transparent process of discussion and will publish short summaries of its meetings like this one. For its opening meeting the discussions of the consortium were general and touched on several topics which are summarised below. Most of the discussions are at an opening stage so there is lots of time for new ideas to come into the group from outside.
It was necessary for the group to address the identity of the Consortium itself. Joy Haynes was unanimously elected as Chair, and the ambition was restated to invite members from regions and disciplines not yet represented, and to open the meetings to visits where practicable from other organisations and individuals. We also talked about representation and diversity and how to be positive about these under-addressed issues. If you have questions about the consortium structure contact Joy Haynes or Sean Myatt
The group wanted to talk about networking and local meetings. There was a feeling that outside of festivals, puppeteers want to meet up more often to exchange ideas. A range of ideas were discussed, from informal “puppeteers’ drop-ins” in pubs, to more organised events with speakers, or structured exchange of knowledge. To contribute ideas for local networking events contact Mervyn Millar or Slavka Jovanovic
Networking over the web is an important resource for puppeteers. Several members felt that a ‘history of puppetry in the UK’ would be desirable and the consortium will consider enabling this to happen. The existing websites managed by PuppeteersUK, BrUNIMA, the Puppet Centre/Animations and Puppet Place are important and the group were more minded to supplement and offer support to these than to create another separate site. We were also very keen to help all puppetry organisations make the case for puppetry – which requires data and some research to help articulate how influential and successful puppetry is. Some of this activity can benefit from supporters in the academic sector but it will require help and figures from everyone. For ideas on the online offer, contact Sue Buckmaster or Alison Duddle
The group felt that focal events like World Puppetry Day offered a valuable way to focus minds outside the sector on the successes of puppetry. We talked about the possibility of organising a Puppetry Week which would allow puppeteers everywhere to talk about their work and build some momentum around what we all do. There were also discussions of the positive publicity of puppetry awards and who might be in a position to offer one – at the Edinburgh Fringe perhaps? If you want to contribute to the debate on events contact Joy Haynes or Sue Buckmaster
The group were keen to have a discussion about training. There will be lots more of this in the next meeting, as Cariad Astles of RCSSD organised an open meeting about puppetry training on 1st June. Six of our members were there and this is to be a focus for our next meeting. We talked about the possibility of different venues offering courses co-ordinating diaries so that there are fewer clashes, and we are hoping to be able to map out what the existing provision is. To offer ideas about training and how best to co-ordinate it, contact Sean Myatt or Slavka Jovanovic
The group finally addressed the difficulties of touring small and middle-scale work. Different models were cited and the consortium would like to develop some recommendations to make life easier for puppet companies engaged in touring – whether to do with identifying sympathetic and puppetry-engaged venues, or by creating touring networks, or helping with insurance, introductions or recommendations. If you have ideas to help with this initiative please contact Alison Duddle or Bethan Tomlinson
The date of the next PDC meeting is on 3rd July, prior to the Boo Festival, please do get in touch if you have ideas to contribute before then.
Best wishes to you puppeteers.