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Welcome to my
You found yourself a mega-useful list of resources for that I made for the puppet-curious, puppet artists, puppet builders, puppet performers, and perhaps non-puppet-adjacent humans.
Puppeteers of America – or P-of-A as you'll hear around the puppet parts – is the National organization for puppeteers. Jim Henson was the president of PofA at one time, but being Jim Henson he was prez for only a year, as he was a very busy dude. Puppeteers of America hosts the National Puppetry Festival every other year in different locations each time. They also award grants to puppet artists and publish a quarterly magazine called The Puppetry Journal.
The Jim Henson Foundation, led by Cheryl Henson and coordinated by Z. Briggs, awards grants to full-length productions in various stages by puppetry artists annually. The foundation also offers an annual residency and a grant to help puppeteers take their show overseas. Be sure to sign up for the email newsletter, Puppet Happenings, to find out about the...puppet happenings...around the country.
UNIMA is the international organization for puppet artists and UNIMA-USA is, you guessed it, the American version. They offer granting opportunities and give out awards annually. They also publish Puppetry International, a very nice color magazine about international puppet things.
You'll hear this one referred to simply as "The O'Neill" around puppetland. The O'Neill is indescribable as an experience, but to put it in a few sentences it is a week-long conference that is all about puppetry. It is an understatement to call it an intensive. It is intense. The O'Neill offers many different tracks, including marionettes, writing for puppetry, puppetry in performance, and oh so many more. The instructors are world-class so if you can make it to the O'Neill, I can't recommend it enough. It happens every summer at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, and tuition includes room & board. Many scholarships are available.
The Center for Puppetry Arts is a museum and education center in Atlanta, GA. If you are ever in Atlanta and you have the chance to go, do it. They have an incredible exhibit, a large part of which is dedicated to Jim Henson's career. They also offer classes for kids and adults and community events.
UConn is the only university in the United States that offers Bachelor and Masters of Arts in Puppetry. They also house the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry which hosts tours, workshops and events.
Project Puppet is a great resource for puppet patterns and supplies. There are tutorials and multiple puppet patterns available on a very nicely organized website. If you are looking to get into building puppets or have been doing it for awhile, this is the place to go!
I haven't attended it myself but I have only heard very good things about this annual festival in Chicago. They bring in puppeteers from around the country and have performances at multiple venues. Worth checking out.
If you love puppets on film you need to know about Handmade Puppet Dreams. HMPD funds a few selected puppet filmmakers each year to help them create a puppet short film and launched many of their short films on Amazon Prime. You can find out more about the grant at their website. I made a HMPD commissioned film, Bunny Love, in 2018, which you can watch here.
The Puppet Slam Network funds and supports puppet slams – or variety shows that consist entirely of short works of puppetry – all over North America. There is also an interactive puppet slam map, a Facebook group, and a monthly newsletter where shows and calls for acts are posted so you don't have to miss anything. If you want to start a puppet slam in your area, contact the PSN!
The LA Guild of Puppetry is one of the more active local puppetry guilds, but I encourage you to see if you have a local puppetry guild and get involved! The LA guild hosts monthly events and an annual 48-hour Puppet Film Project which is available to anyone, anywhere. They also put out a nice quarterly publication, Puppet Life, for guild members.
12. Beyond the Sock
Beyond the Sock is a puppetry performance intensive that happens at the University of North Texas every summer. You get to work with puppeteers from Sesame Street to learn TV puppetry performance and construction and building techniques.
The National Puppet Slam happens every year either at Dragon Con – a massive pop culture convention in Atlanta – or at the National Puppetry Festival. Performers have to be either invited or nominated to perform in the National Puppet Slam. It is the best of the best in the puppet slam world.
The name might imply this but this is the largest puppet theater festival in the world! It happens every other year in the fall in Charleville-Mézières, France and includes some of the best puppetry in the world.
15. IBEX Puppetry
IBEX Puppetry is run by Heather Henson and is the umbrella company for The Puppet Slam Network and Handmade Puppet Dreams. Heather loves supporting and encouraging the puppetry community. IBEX publishes a weekly newsletter and supports puppeteers all over the country with workshops and events.