The meeting, held at the Sonoma Community Center, was preceded by a performance by Paul Mesner, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf.”
The business meeting began at 4:32. President Michael Nelson introduced the board members:
Mike Wick, Co-Vice President, Treasurer Valerie Nelson, Newsletter Editor: Michael Nelson,
and Secretary: Sharon Clay. Michael reported that elections are scheduled to take place in May, and that a nominating committee needs to be involved. But at the moment we do not have a written procedure for that. We do have a Procedures Committee, and Mary Decker is chair of that committee and that a procedure for the election of officers is on their agenda. A discussion ensued about how to select/elect a nominating committee. P of A board selects their nominating committee. There is a job description for each officer position. The fact that candidates should be selected from members regularly attending meetings was mentioned. Valerie Nelson moved and it was seconded by Talib, that the previous nominating committee would select the new nominating committee. Vote was taken and passed, with one abstention.
Guild Library: Lee Armstrong is the new Guild Librarian. She would like suggestions as to how to make the library a useful resource and make the books accessible to guild members. At the end of the meeting Lee arrived with the library and the books and videos were displayed and members who were interested, signed them out with Lee. They will be able to keep them for 6 months, or bring them back at the next Guild meeting.
Publicity Committee: We should be publicizing Guild activities and the Art of Puppetry to the people of the Bay Area. It was discussed how should this be done? Suggestions were: on-line calendar could be used to publicize puppet performances. Mary has two domain names Puppetshowcase.org &.com which could be used. The publicity committee should decide what should go on this web site – puppet performances, guild meetings? It was suggested that the publicity committee should develop a list of appropriate connections (email lists, publication lists, etc) who should receive this information. Nina and Mary Decker volunteered to be on the committee to implement these suggestions. Mike suggested that a procedure for this should be written and a manual should be developed so that this information get passed from one board to the next.
Future meetings and meeting locations: Herbert brought up this subject. That in order to increase the attendance at meetings we need to be consistent in meeting schedules. And in order to get special speakers or activity leaders, our meeting dates need to be secured in advance. Several venues were discussed: Mill Valley, Vacaville, San Leandro, Fort Mason. Fort Mason is now charging for parking, so that now makes that less optimal. We need a location that is inexpensive and convenient. A May meeting date of May 20th, in Mill Valley was set in conjunction with a Lettie Schubert dedication. Herbert Lange and Mike Wick will do the first part of a puppet workshop: “How to Make Puppets Come Alive”.
At 5:14 Paul Mesner was introduced to lead a question and answer period about his career in puppetry. Paul is a former President of P of A and has won many awards for his puppetry.
He started at age 18 in Omaha and was only going to do this for one year. He had been working in a down jacket factory. After several years of working with a partner, he went out on his own in 1980 in Lincoln, Nebraska. His first years in his new career were not exactly profitable. His net profit was ZERO. Then he moved to the grand total of about $2,000 a year. His income has slowly progressed from there. He moved to Kansas City, in a small theater, doing 1 show for 1 week, alternating 4 different shows for the year. When he went into the next year, he had to increase the number of shows (couldn’t do the same shows the next year). By the third year, he could put back in one of the shows from the first year, but he did have to continue developing shows, and building puppets, and making costumes. His theater seats 320, and he had no trouble filling the theater for the morning shows, but the evening shows were a bit more challenging. Getting people out of the “puppets are for kids” mentality.
He now has 2 full time puppeteer and sometimes hires extra puppeteers as well as involving many volunteers. He has progressed to some pretty elaborate shows. A few years ago they
did the complete Nativity utilizing 8 additional puppeteers, and many musicians. Now he is doing the Mikado with 24 musicians and singers, 27 puppets and 10 paid puppeteers, plus many volunteers. He has a $105,000 budget for this production. This show uses 4.5 foot tall puppets
operated by 2-3 puppeteers each.
His theater is currently a not for profit organization with funds coming from subscriptions, grants, ticket sales and donations. Since the Mikado has been so successful, next year they
will do the Hansel and Gretel opera with marionettes, and have plans for The Magic Flute in 2009.
Q. “How did you evaluate Kansas City as a “good theater town”?
A. There were 5 theaters, doing well, and another children’s theater also doing well.
Q. You didn’t regard this as competition?
A. No, it showed me that there was a market for theater. We also charge for everyone over
1 year of age.
Q. Why didn’t the Nativity production make money, if it was so well received? Lack of
audience or cost of production?
A. Actually, it was a year of terrible weather. And we ran it from Dec. 26-30th. People didn’t
seem to want to do Christmas things after Christmas. They start thinking of Christmas
in October, so maybe we should have run it earlier.
Q. How do you keep track of costs?
A. We budget, carefully. We can predict costs of some things like scenery, costuming, etc.
But when it comes to puppet making it gets harder because sometimes things have to
be redone. I have some paid puppet makers – a puppet sculptor, several papier mache
people, puppet painters. The major cost is rental of the hall, with union craftsman,
electricians, lighting etc. But, they are well worth having.
Q. Who does your booking.
A. The Artistic Director, mostly.
Q. How do you do your publicity?
A. We send out press kits. And we also make 1 poster. We now take a picture of the people
attending the show and the day after the performance, we e-mail them the picture saying
“Thank you for attending our show. If you liked it, please tell your friends”.
Meeting adjourned at 5:55 PM..