Puppetry Development Consortium Update

From May last year a group of individuals working in puppetry met a number of times to talk about goals and challenges they all shared under the name the Puppetry Development Consortium (PDC). The group was chaired by Joy Haynes, until 31st March this year the Director of the Norwich Puppet Theatre. The PDC is a mix of independent practitioners and representatives from buildings based organisations and guests were invited to most sessions to inform the conversation further. A full list of members can be found at the PDC website here.
Each meeting focused on an aspect of work in the artform that was felt would benefit from partnership planning and funding. A key driver was to reflect personal experiences and, where possible, feedback from Puppet Gatherings, the Puppeteers UK meeting in June, the two Training Meetings facilitated by Cariad Astles, and many other forums. Ultimately the group exists as a collective but the initial aim has been to distill the themes emerging into a small number of manageable actions that can be taken on to next steps. Three strands will be developed into projects in the upcoming months by members. 
  • The first of these activities is to look at talent development from youth theatre to advanced training for practicing artists. The project will look at sharing information on existing opportunities for all. It would potentially see a development of the Facebook groups that were started during the last year and opportunities for increasing a more diverse workforce and audience share. 
  • The second urgent requirement for all was developing more support for touring puppetry. This was discussed in the light of the changing economic climate for venues, festivals and touring companies. More partners who do and don’t usually work with puppetry will continue to be sought to build new models for working together. 
  • The third area of shared interest was a development of online offers with puppetry and conversations about models for a new digital strategy will continue across the year across the sector. 
The year since the first PDC meeting has seen so many wonderful events and conversations across the UK for artists and audiences. The challenge has been to decide which of all the ideas generated the PDC can take forward. It has become visible that as we focused on talent development, diversity, touring strategies, strengths of consortium bids and digital strategy, ourselves and others were inspired and activated to address these issues/opportunities amongst the wider sector. We now wish to build on and support these initiatives and keep addressing those areas which are still in need of a shift in thinking and perspective.  The membership’s strategic plans aim to benefit practitioners nationally by piloting ideas and always looking to open more doors for more people to enjoy puppetry.
A summary document will be available to download and shared on social media shortly. If you have any comments or interest in any of the ideas outlined above please do write to the current co-ordinator Bethan Tomlinson at bethan.tomlinson@puppetcentre.org.uk.  
Bethan Tomlinson
Puppetry Development Consortium
Coordinator for Puppet Centre Trust


The Puppetry Development Consortium is a think-tank and networking resource for professionals working in puppetry in England. It was set up in response to the initiative ‘Working Together to Strengthen Puppetry’, which was funded by ACE through the Puppet Centre. Although the PDC‘s administration and co-ordination are carried out by the Puppet Centre, it is an independent group and has its own specific aims. The Consortium includes companies, venues and individual puppeteers/directors/designers and invitations have also been extended to membership organisations.  For more information visit the website at: https://puppetrydevelopmentconsortium.org

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