There is always something going on at The Center…
The Center for Puppetry Arts is a staple of Atlanta’s arts community. Truly an Atlanta treasure, CPA preserves a long tradition of puppet making and performance; at the same time, CPA employs technologies that distributes their art form globally and fosters creative innovation through programs such as XPT (Xpertimental Puppetry Theatre), workshops and more. What I have always personally appreciated about CPA is their staff. Always friendly. Always advocates for the arts. For example: Rainie Jueschke, CPA staff member, is always lending her voice in support of arts funding/advocacy. For smaller organizations, like C4 Atlanta, it means a lot to us to see the larger, more established organizations, speaking up for us all.
The Center has several exciting shows, workshops and more coming up in October–for all ages. Visit The Center again this fall. In the meantime, here is a little more about C4 Atlanta Featured Member, The Center for Puppetry Arts, in their own words (as answered by Marketing Director and C4 friend, Daniel Summers, Jr.)…
JH: How long has CPA been around?
DSJ: The Center opened in 1978 and we are proud to celebrate our 34th Anniversary this year. Since our inception, we’ve grown to include two theater spaces,rehearsal space, classroom spaces, museum exhibition galleries, puppet building shop, scene shop, two Distance Learning educational video-conferencing studios, and more. We’re not done yet.
JH: Why did CPA form?
DSJ: Vincent Anthony, our Founding Executive Director, was organizing a national convention of puppeteers when he realized that there was a need for a central hub for the puppetry community. He envisioned a place where the centuries-old art form could be recorded, where new trends and styles could be explored, and where both professional and the general public could learn more about the art of puppetry; these three tenets led to the formation of our Museum, Education, and Performance departments.
JH: I have seen more live performance show with puppets over the last few years. What
gives? Is this a trend?
DSJ: Well, puppetry has always been used in performances in numerous cultures; some argue that puppets were some of the first “performers” as puppets have been found in tombs and were used extensively in ancient ceremonies and rites.
Today, it does appear that puppets are being used more frequently again. These choices have been shaped by the great work of Jim Henson, Julie Taymor, and others. In fact, like we do here at the Center, shows like Sesame Street and the Muppet Show have always actively encouraged audiences to try their own hand at puppeteering and being creative.
JH: What is CPA’s vision for 5 years? 10 Years?
DSJ: Our vision is to be the premier puppetry center in the world. That’s right, you got it, the world. To do this, we have a four-year strategic plan, which can be downloaded from our website (http://www.puppet.org/about/who.shtml);
highlights include expanding our Museum, increasing our presence at community events and regional festivals, and expanding our Distance Learning and Outreach programming. We’re big believers in long-term, strategic planning.
JH: Why is Atlanta a good fit for CPA?
DSJ: To a degree, Atlantans have always appreciated the importance of arts and cultural programming; today, our metropolitan region has over 450 arts groups – and that’s not even counting our various community organizations. This sense of the importance of the arts, as well as the proximity to so much of the region (not to mention the world’s busiest airport), made Atlanta the perfect place to launch what has become the nation’s premiere nonprofit dedicated to the puppetry art form. Plus, while we are the ninth largest metropolitan area in the country, we’re still a small enough community that an organization of our size can have a very real, tangible impact. We have never wanted to be “just another arts center”; instead, we’ve always wanted to be a vital part of what makes Atlanta great.
JH: Who is CPA for?
DSJ:Simply put: Everyone. We are honored to be what is often a young child’s first cross-cultural performance
experience. We work with educators and local school districts so that we are an integral part of our community’s educational matrix, often providing much needed arts-infused educational experiences to balance with classroom curriculum. We present guest artists from around the world and present two different performance series so that children, teens, and adults can find something uniquely appealing. We teach a range of classes from beginner-level Create-A-Puppet Workshops to professional-level Puppet Building intensives. We offer continuing education and professional development courses for educators, performers, and artists. We represent the global art form of puppetry, showcasing how every culture has some form of puppetry within their unique cultural context.
JH: How does one get involved with CPA?
DSJ: We have numerous ways for the public to become more involved. Of course, the simplest way to become involved is to be a patron; the audience is as important a member of the show as the artists. If you want access to exclusive events aswell as a chance to become a donor, then look into becoming a Member of the Center. If you’re interested in learning more about puppetry, then attend one of our museum tours or a lecture or class in our Explore Puppetry Series. Can’tmake it to the Center, but want to involve us in your school or community– book a Distance Learning program or a Puppet Factory. Want to be a part of the creative process – become a participant or director in XPT (Xperimental Puppetry Theater). What’s more, every department at the Center relies on volunteersand interns to help with our daily operations as well as special projects; we are constantly looking for new volunteers and interns (http://www.puppet.org/ contribute/volunteer.shtml).
JH: How is CPA involved in the arts community? The community at large?
DSJ: The Center, and its staff, frequently work with area artists and arts groups to incorporate puppetry into their own productions and work. Additionally, it seems that many of Atlanta’s professional arts community have worked with the Center in some form or fashion during their careers; annually we employ about 60 full/part-time artists, designers, directors, painters, musicians, builders, stitchers, docents, curators, teaching artists, administrators, etc. For over 25 years, XPT has encouraged creativity and new works with participants from every walk of life and every level of skill.
Regarding the community at large, the Center is frequent guests at community festivals where we offer fun, educational activities that encourage creativity and an appreciation for the arts. Throughout a season, the Center supports the community at large by offering over 70,000 free or reduced tickets, as well as free museum days, so that everyone has the opportunity to explore puppetry. Each year we donate tickets to more than 400 local organizations for their own fundraising efforts.”
Thank you, Daniel! And a big THANKS to the Center for Puppetry Arts for being a part of what makes Atlanta a great place to live!