British organization founded in 1974 as an independent charitable trust within Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in London. It exists to promote, develop and advocate the arts of puppetry, and to act as a resource centre for contemporary puppetry. Founded by a group of twelve enthusiasts and professional practitioners, its Council consisted of representatives of every national association and category of puppetry, to provide a focal point and a united voice for the art form.
Among its activities in the first 30 years include the following: the production of a magazine, Animations (1976-2000), continued today as Animations Online on the Centre’s website (www.puppetcentre.org.uk); the publication of Aspects of Puppet Theatre by Henryk Jurkowski (1988); an annual directory of professional practitioners; the administration of Bursaries in collaboration with the Arts Council of England to professionals wishing to extend their skills; the production of two London-wide international festivals in collaboration with other puppetry organizations; the provision of a library and archive of books, photos and reference materials; an annual forum for puppeteers; workshops and classes for all levels of ability in and out of the Centre; the touring of collections of puppet figures to regional museums and galleries; the encouragement of innovative work by artists and groups – all with the aim of raising the public profile and awareness of the potential of the art form. The Trust was funded by a number of sponsors and national bodies such as the Greater London Council, the Inner London Education Authority, the British Council and the London Borough of Wandsworth.
In 2004 the Puppet Centre Trust narrowed its focus and reduced the range of its activities. At this time it concentrates mainly on its advocacy work and the continuing professional development of puppeteers as well as practitioners from all other areas of theatre and the media. It has the role of a national development agency for puppetry, supported by Arts Council England which continues to fund the range of its activities such as residencies in regional theatre spaces, bursaries for professionals, research via the Centre’s extensive library, and Animations Online. It receives other funding for projects from a number of foundations. The Centre is staffed and managed by a Director and Administrator, and also employs an Editor for Animations Online, all of whom operate under a Board of Directors.
(See Great Britain.)