SKIPTON Puppet Festival organisers are delighted to announce that there will be puppet fun in the town this year, thanks to an Arts Council England grant.

“We are so happy to be able to keep the festival alive.” Said Liz Lempen, one of the festival organisers. “The puppet festival has become loved in Skipton. Many people have said to us that we contribute to the reputation of the town as one of the happiest places to live. Of course, we have had to adapt and change the festival shape this year so that it can be managed in the present circumstances.”

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure both audiences and puppeteers are safe, rather than the usual intense jamboree of puppet companies performing over one long weekend, there will be six bite-sized weekends of puppet activity. These are to take place, every second weekend in the month from June to November. There will be outdoor shows and walkabouts while the warm weather lasts. Starting in July, indoor performances are to take place at the newly renovated Skipton Town Hall, the main venue partner.

Danielle Daglan, cultural services manager for Craven District Council said: “We’re really excited to be working in partnership with the Puppet Festival as their venue partner at Skipton Town Hall – the biennial event is an integral and exciting part of the town’s calendar and we’re glad to be able to help develop the new format of the Festival, welcoming visitors and festival fans back safely”.

The festival programme will feature a blend of traditional and experimental puppetry. There will be family friendly shows, favourites like Punch and Judy and a flea circus, through to more visual theatre such as the poetic story of Flotsam and Jetsam. September to November will host shows for adults. Puppet making activities, a masterclass and some on-line zoom projects will also take place. There will be plenty for families, puppets fans and artists to get involved.

The opening weekend, June 12th and 13th, will see the canal basin animated with puppetry on both Saturday and Sunday. It will be a ‘shout up’ the coming Festival programme. Tickets for Town Hall performances can be booked through the Skipton Town Hall.

All acts will be delivered with the necessary safe practice and audiences may have to remain small, but this is what puppets are great at. We don’t do big stadiums, we do small performances, personal and live interactions and connections. Something we have all been missing this past year.

All this would not be possible without generous support from Skipton BID providing seed funds which then enabled a strong successful grant application to Arts Council England ACE). After months of waiting the news is fantastic with an ACE grant of 29K awarded.

Geraldine Thompson, Skipton BID Manager said: “We are so happy that we can keep the puppet tradition alive in Skipton. The puppet shows are timeless, appealing to everyone and with shows available this year from June to November we look forward to integrating this cultural programme back into the community offering.”

Look out for more information through community news sources or the festival Facebook page.

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