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A Letter from the Editor
On the occasion of this ‘silver jubilee’ edition of
Animations Online – AO25 – it feels an appropriate
moment to reflect on the history of the magazine.

Animations (the print publication) was founded in 1977 and published by the Puppet Centre Trust for more than two decades, providing valuable information and support for the UK puppetry community. Penny Francis was the inaugural and long-serving editor, and she was succeeded by Phyllida Shaw, and later by Glyn Edwards. Following the loss of regional and national funding for PCT in the late 1990s, publication sadly had to close in 2000.

A couple of years later, Penny Francis invited me to attend a meeting at Puppet Centre Trust – a roundtable meeting led by Tom Morris (then director of BAC) in which he invited everyone present to think of ways in which they could contribute to turning around the fortunes of the PCT. I put my hand up and offered to work with Penny to re-launch Animations. She and puppeteer Mark Down, who had offered to build the new PCT website, set up a template for an online version of the magazine, and the two of them came to meet me to ask for my involvement. We all agreed to work on this exciting new venture unpaid for as long as it took to get it established.

Six online magazines were produced in 2002-2003 under this arrangement. The original goal, to establish Animations Online, had been achieved. Following a consultation process with the Puppet Centre Trust, it was agreed that Animations Online would continue in 2004 on a more solid basis. I was appointed editor on a more formal footing (paid, even!), and Penny agreed to continue as a contributing editor. Mark stepped down to concentrate on his burgeoning career as a puppeteer and performer with Blind Summit.

We welcomed on board our new designer and webmaster Gabriel Foster Prior, and also welcomed the newly-appointed PCT project manager (later, director) Beccy Smith onto the Animations editorial team.

Animations Online has since gone from strength to strength, with an ever growing content, and ever more sophisticated design. An online archive was set up to make back issues available (as far back as edition 6 at any rate, files for earlier editions being unavailable).

In 2006, Beccy stepped down as director (although remained a committed member of the Animations editorial team) and her role at PCT was filled by new director Natalie Querol.

Under Natalie’s leadership, Animations entered a new phase with the launch of Animations in Print – an annual review of puppetry and related arts. Animations in Print Volume One, Animated Encounters, focused on puppetry in collaboration/conversation with other artforms. It featured reflections on street arts and puppetry, fine art and puppetry, puppetry and YouTube, dance and puppetry; an interview with Anthony Minghella on the making of Madam Butterfly; and specially commissioned contributions artists from John Fox of Welfare State International and Ken Campbell.

Animation in Print Volume 2 focused on continuing professional development, and featured articles by PCT bursary recipients such as Mervyn Millar and Steven Mottram; specially commissioned articles by Ronnie Burkett and Lyn Gardner; and a reflection on Nenagh Watson’s engagement with the Punch & Judy tradition.

Animations in Print also includes a selection of company profiles and a Timeline of the previous year’s puppetry highlights. Animations in Print 3, which is currently in production, has a focus on puppetry and dance/choreography, and will be available to purchase in spring 2009.

Towards the end of 2008, I learnt that Natalie was to leave the Puppet Centre Trust to focus on her work as a creative producer with State of Play. She leaves at the end of December, her last PCT project being the Dance and Puppetry showing on 22 December at BAC. She will however continue to have an involvement with Animations in Print Volume 3. We are also very pleased to learn that Beccy Smith will be back in the driving seat, taking on the role of Interim Director. 

So as we enter a new year, Animations Online enters its next phase of development. We hope that 2009 will see more positive change and growth, and as I wish Natalie the very best of luck in her new ventures, and thank her heartily for her commitment to Animations (Online and In Print), I look forward to whatever the next phase of development at PCT might bring.

Here’s to the next 25 editions of Animations Online!

Dorothy Max Prior

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