File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 39

Date: Sat, 4 Oct 2008 09:24:02 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Economy & Puppeteers

We've had several discussions of this on puptcrit. the result: yes,  
it's affecting us. HORRIBLY.

As to my solo work, it's actually doing better than the other shows I  
have in the roster -- probably because it's less expensive. But  
everything is down.

I directed & continue to perform a health education program with  
puppets that is presented in all the Hartford Elementary Schools. It  
is very well designed and built -- a booth with hand puppets &  
hand&rod puppets...probably the only live theatre of any sort that  
most of the kids see.  We've been doing it for ten years. Just last  
week I got the news that the funding has been pulled. Our last show  
will be in December.

The state is in a fiscal crisis, and has been for years...

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad, except the program we do is the  
vestige of a health education initiative that is fast disappearing.  
The City of Hartford cut all health educators in elementary schools a  
couple of years ago.

I spoke to one of them last year -- she said that we won't see the  
costs for a few years -- but then, when young girls get pregnant (and  
have to go to the state for help) --  or teenagers get STDs of various  
sorts -- and have to depend on state agencies, then, we will see the  
cost that an "ounce of prevention" may have stopped.

  I don't consider the health ed. piece "high art" -- but nonetheless,  
it's been entertaining and teaching the children of Hartford for a  
long while, and is woven into their memories and minds. They remember  
the characters from year to year, and the episodes are talked about  
and discussed in classrooms. They enter into puberty with a clear  
understanding of healthy behaviors.

There are more ramifications to this, and it scares me.
In Pakistan, after formation of the country, there were over 400  
puppeteers making their living there. When I visited in 2000, there  
were less than 40 "folk puppeteers" -- all others had been forced to  
stop because of economics, or other reasons. It is a very poor  
country. Perhaps it always has been in many ways -- but culturally? It  
is still rich ..but maybe not as rich as it once was.

This is happening all over the world. And, the artists are the first  
to be affected by any economic change. We are the canaries in the coal  


On Oct 3, 2008, at 8:22 PM, wrote:

> I am wondering how the U.S. economy is affecting puppeteers around the
> country, particularly solo puppeteers such as myself.   Here in  
> Flori-DUH, a few of
> my regular sponsors have asked if I could charge them less than I  
> charged them
> last year.   I realize that Flori-DUH is a pretty backward state,  
> but I
> cannot go backwards in my pricing.   I politely informed them my  
> costs for things
> such as gas have gone up considerably.   I suspect it is going to be  
> rough
> going for all of us for at least the next few years.   How is the  
> economy
> affecting the rest of you?
> Bob Nathanson
> Bobseyeview
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