Public engagement and accessibility within the Arts is at the heart of our goals. We work closely with organisations in the Cultural and Higher Education sectors, as well as specialists in access and inclusion, to achieve this.
Through the Bristol Festival of Puppetry, we have served audiences of over 30,000, while our co-worker community engages hundreds of thousands, both nationally and internationally, and millions via film and television, and online.
Our vision is to develop Puppet Places’ current home into a centre of excellence for puppetry. A space where we can deliver the training, research, and innovation necessary to support and develop both practitioners and audiences.
Photo Shows: Puppet Place puppeteers performing with Cold Play on their Music of the Spheres Tour
We seek to expand Bristol’s world-class puppetry and animation sector; to create new jobs; more mentorship and training opportunities; to support the greater puppetry and creative sector through residencies, networking and training; and cement Spike Island and the historic Harbourside as a cultural destination. For the public we run events, workshops and activities in Bristol and beyond. Check out What’s On to find out more.
You can find out more about our vision and ambitions for Puppet Place via the video below:
Like many arts organisations and charities we are still re-emerging from the COVID pandemic with new vigour and energy, alongside a new Finance & Operations Manager and six new Resident Artists who bring new inspiration and energy to our building.
We have also restarted our regular Creative Cafes, with recent guests including Anurupa Roy from Katkatha Puppets Art Trust in India and Cat Rock, talking about the Bristol 48h Puppet Film Challenge. Plus there are a series of creative workshops taking place too.
Puppet Place would not exist without the support and goodwill of the artistic community in Bristol and we offer them our whole-hearted thanks.
Read on to find out more about our Board of Trustees, Management and History:
BOARD OF TRUSTEES (click to reveal):
Chris Pirie – Trustee & Resident Artist
Chris is Artistic Director of Green Ginger. He has thirty years’ experience as a freelance designer and maker of puppetry solutions for screen and stage and is also a lecturer and researcher in puppetry for performance.
Jo Kelly – Trustee
Jo is an award winning architect specialising in bespoke design and creative reuse, and is also a lighting tech in a local theatre. Jo led a project with UWE students to envision how Puppet Place’s home at Unit 18 might look and function in the future.
Isabella Whately – Trustee
Bella Whately is a Fundraising Manager with 10 years of fundraising experience, managing campaigns and leading teams to raise income via a range of different streams including Trusts and Grants, Individual Giving, Community Fundraising, Membership, Raffles/Lotteries and Legacies.
Rhys Williamson – Trustee
Rhys is an experienced communications and marketing professional. Over the past decade, he has written, directed and produced magic shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and worked on a number of creative projects across immersive experiences, fringe theatre, film and television. Rhys is passionate about storytelling and the performing arts and is interested in the potential of puppetry across both of these.
Cat Rock – Trustee & Resident Artist
Cat Rock is an award winning puppeteer, film maker and performer who makes wonderfully weird puppetry pieces for the stage, film and beyond. Cat is a co-founder for the House of Funny Noise and Director of the Bristol 48-hr Film Challenge. Creating original pieces and working with other organisations Cat performs, builds and experiments with puppets of all shapes and sizes.
Noreen Masud – Trustee
Noreen is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Bristol, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker. She is interested in ‘wooden’ or atypical modes of communication, especially involving immobile faces or surfaces, and this underpins her research into puppetry. She is a forever beginner puppeteer: always trying, seldom improving, always loving it.
Puppet Place Trust Ltd is always looking to strengthen and diversify its board of Trustees. You can find out more, including how to apply here or email our Finance & Operations Manager, Sally Reay: email@example.com
To find out more about Puppet Place Governance and policies please click here
MANAGEMENT (click to reveal):
Our Resident Artists are responsible for the day-to-day management of Unit 18.
They often work collaboratively on new projects and are a supportive community who work and play together.
They also provide support and guidance to our Associate Artists and the wider puppetry sector via courses, workshops, mentoring and advice sessions, and through networking events and Creative Cafes.
We also have a part-time Finance & Operations Manager: Sally Reay, who joined Puppet Place in July 2022 and is responsible for the smooth running of our building and with managing bookings of our Rehearsal Studio, Fabrication Bay & Meeting Room.
Sally is also a Director of In Bristol Studio and the founder and manager of Bristol Creatives, and she has been managing artist studios and supporting visual applied artists in the city for over 15 years.
Contact Sally via firstname.lastname@example.org
HISTORY (click to reveal):
Puppet Place was founded by Di Steeds and Jim Still in 1984. It offered resources and training in puppetry to artists in the South West and ran regular workshops in schools. In the late 1990s the organisation lost its funding and was forced to close.
In 2007, four Bristol based companies came together to reinvigorate Puppet Place: Stuff & Nonsense Theatre Company, Full Beam Visual Theatre, Green Ginger and Pickled Image. In 2008, we moved into one half of our current premises, Unit 18. In 2009 we ran the first ever Bristol Festival of Puppetry and decided to continue it as a biennial event. Since then, each festival has grown in ambition and scope.
In 2014, Puppet Place developed from a largely voluntary run organisation and we appointed our first Executive Producer – Rachel McNally and started to run activities and events outside of the festival, including workshops, a puppetry prototype and our first international presentation, Stuffed Puppet’s Punch & Judy in Afghanistan, in collaboration with Tobacco Factory Theatres.
In early 2015, Puppet Place secured the lease on Unit 18 and took over the whole building, with the support of our previous landlords, Bristol Old Vic. We are currently in a transitional phase between organisational models; working towards a ‘flat’ structure in which Resident Artists share greater responsibility for the day-to-day running of the building. We continually strive to develop our premises and our work to provide further support and development opportunities for the puppetry and animation communities in the UK and introduce more people to the wonders of all things animated!