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PCT Update
PCT Project Manager Beccy Smith on the organisation's latest news and activities from May and June 2004

PCT has taken on a varied range of work throughout May and June, reflecting our current exploratory stance as the organisational review of the Centre’s activities and aspirations continues. May 13th saw the Barbican play host to PCT’s masterclass with acclaimed puppeteer-auteur Ronnie Burkett. The class gave three selected companies the opportunity to discuss their practice with Ronnie, focusing on challenges of staging, and practical and artistic development of work. There was also the chance to discuss the latest work from Ronnie’s studio, Provenance, getting a closer look at the puppets designed for the show and un-picking aspects of his process. The class, a full report of which is available HERE was a pilot form of half-day session comprising an 'audience with’ model with practical example and discussion with a small panel of practitioners. PCT hopes to be developing the possibilities of masterclasses of different kinds through our proposed training programme over the next eighteen months. If you attended the masterclass and would like to feedback, we welcome all of your responses, so please contact us using the write to reply below. Further events are planned with other visiting specialists later in the year.

As you may remember in the last edition I reported plans to re-house PCT’s extensive puppet collection within our local borough. Unfortunately a suitable home was unable to be found, but thanks to the enthusiastic and enormously generous assistance of some of PCT’s supporters we have been able to safely store the collections in Shropshire under the watchful eye of Mike Dixon and family. PCT extends its warmest thanks to all those who offered their time and effort to the unwieldy task of moving more than 2000 puppets on a very hot day: without them it simply would not have been possible. We are now entering into discussion with a number of organisations, with the assistance of Archives, Libraries and Museums London and their regional affiliates, in seeking a new, permanent and accessible home for the entire collection. In the meantime a select capsule collection can be viewed at Stevenage Museum until September and is available to tour.

On a local front, PCT is this month meeting with local community leaders from the Borough of Wandsworth to discuss plans to move our activities further a-field within the community. PCT continues to collaborate with Wandsworth Borough Council and Battersea Arts Centre in offering creative opportunities with puppetry for local young people, their teachers and carers. Our aim is to pilot a programme of best practice in community work in our local borough through a range of activities. If you would like to be involved in our plans please contact the Centre for a chat! The last regular Saturday workshop at the Centre was held on June 26th: a successful session focusing on glove puppetry for the under-10s. Changes to BAC’s opening hours means that from July 17th the Centre won’t be opening on Saturday afternoons, though our Wednesday openings (2 – 6pm) for puppeteers, students and visitors remain unchanged. We plan to continue to schedule children’s activities in the space whenever possible and are actively exploring other outlets for our community work and the possibility of alternative opening hours for access to the library, slides and parts of the collection.

Behind the scenes, PCT has spent the last few months working productively on our future project plans and longer term Business Plan. This week we received the fantastic news that Arts Council England will be supporting the sector with a grant of over £70, 000 for the Puppet Centre’s planned Continuing Professional Development projects. The fund will be used to provide key skills workshops for puppeteers, based in London, the Midlands and the North; for a range of masterclasses with international specialists to be held at festivals across the country; and to continue the successful Bursary programme for mid-career artists to develop their practice reintroduced last year. PCT is thrilled at this support from the Arts Council for us as an organisation and more importantly for the sector in general and would like to thank everyone who has supported us through the challenging period that has led up to this point. I’ll be reporting the practical plans for the organisation to deliver these aims for puppetry and puppeteers first here so watch this space! Future project plans and our strategy for PCT to fulfil its aims as a national development agency for puppetry and related performance are also under development and will be reported here in due course.

Earlier in June PCT met with Council members of PUK for a positive discussion of future aims and the ongoing relationship between the two organisations. A more detailed joint release about this meeting will follow shortly.

Finally PCT would like to extend warm congratulations to Sofia Clist, recent recipient of the international Arlyn Award for excellence in design in puppetry. Sofia’s acclaimed work with theatre-rites and as a successful freelancer has identified her as an enormously inventive and effective designer for puppet theatre and we wish her every success for the future. (see our Noticeboard for a more detailed report).

We continue to develop Animations Online alongside the changes at the Centre and warmly invite your ideas and comments on both the online magazine to

Animations Online hopes to develop its forum section as a place for you to exchange comments and ideas, so do keep in touch with us here with your thoughts as well as your news and updates for our Noticeboard.

With all good wishes from the Puppet Centre Trust
Beccy Smith - Project Manager

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