A Word From The Bread & Puppet Theater Board of Directors
THANK YOU for donating to the Bread & Puppet Theater! Now on the eve of Bread & Puppet’s 50th anniversary, it is time to take stock of what has been accomplished, and what lies ahead. Over the years, Bread and Puppet has grown into a vast community, adding new layers every summer as new apprentices learn the ropes from returning apprentices and past puppeteers with years and even decades of experience under their belts. An extensive local community participates and lends resources for the summer shows, parades, and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Children grow up in the theater and now even some of those children’s children are taking part. It is this network of support and volunteerism, as well as the attraction and commitment to an art form that is homemade, and which reflects on and addresses the concerns of the world and celebrates its beauty, that has made the Theater possible and what it is.
In recent years, there has been an ongoing discussion within Bread and Puppet and its community, about what lies ahead for the theater in the near and not-so-near future. Peter Schumann is the driving force behind the existence and continuation of the theater’s many activities. As the theater continues to operate within its means on a shoestring budget, the summer program has evolved into a highly organized operation, including larger than ever intern and volunteer participation, and plays to enthusiastic and growing audiences. But nothing lasts forever, and this is the issue that the Bread and Puppet Board of Directors, and the theater’s extended community, have begun to grapple with: in what ways could, or should the theater continue, as a theater, as a museum and as a press?
Many interesting ideas are being considered and developed, from the continuation of the Bread and Puppet Museum and the Bread and Puppet Press, to the possibility of some version of a summer program with workshops and performances, to a repertory company that would continue tour performances, to possible collaborations with educational institutions, and more.
There is a strong consensus that Bread and Puppet should maintain the integrity of its economic independence. One of the most enduring legacies of Bread and Puppet is its autonomy, receiving no direct government or corporate funding, but instead relying on its own practice of frugality and a huge amount of volunteerism, along with the merged incomes of performance fees, Press sales and donations to pay its own way. This model is in itself an art form, not only of puppetry and theater making, but also a lived philosophy of art and activism.
In response to the challenge of creating a structure and conditions for sustaining Bread and Puppet Theater into the future, a future beyond Peter’s unifying creative vision and leadership, the Board of Directors has come to the conclusion that additional financial means are needed. To this end, the Board is announcing the launch of a Sustainability Fund, built through donations over time, and used as necessary to create and support the capacity for Bread and Puppet’s continuation. This fund will not be used for the general operating costs of the theater, but rather will focus on the development of an infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of the Theater.
While the specifics of future forms and practices of the Bread and Puppet will evolve in the coming years, along with the specific uses for the Sustainability Fund, some examples of areas that might need support are: maintaining the grounds and facilities (museum, farmhouse, new building, other structures); supplemental medical for B&P seniors; a pension fund for senior B&P employees when they are no longer able to work; the preservation/digitization of the media archive (film, video and audio tape); the continued operation of the Museum and the Print Shop.
So, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of one of the most distinctive and exemplary undertakings in the world of theater, and art, and activism, the Board of Directors of the Bread and Puppet Theater is inviting you to help us build this endowment to support the sustainability of Bread and Puppet into the future. No amount is too great, or too small, and we thank you for your consideration.