Puppets on York

A street fair on York Boulevard included puppet performances from the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. Thanks to Martha Benedict for sharing her photo.

Highland Park - The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the oldest puppet arts theater in the country, is in immediate danger of closing permanently due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is asking for the public's help.

In March, four months after the grand opening of BBMT's new location in Highland Park, all live performances were stopped as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, resulting in a cumulative loss of more than $500,000, according to theater spokeswoman Molly Cox.

The 57-year-old company then transitioned into the digital age by providing online puppet shows, pre-recorded performances, and other resources for kids of all ages.

The Marionette Mobile, a custom retrofitted box truck that transports fully self-contained Bob Baker puppet shows, was launched for socially distanced performances and ice cream delivery to doorsteps throughout Los Angeles. With the establishment of the immersive Peek-a-Boo Stroll Thru, BBMT created a contactless experience at the puppet theater.

However, with more than a half-million dollars lost from COVID-19 closures and a decimated income stream, BBMT is losing $30,000 per month and is in severe danger of closing their curtains forever, Cox said.

In order to survive throughout 2021, the theater must raise its annual goal of $365,000, which covers lost income from the cancellation of live shows and anticipates a very slow return to a full house. BBMT will continue to provide as many safe alternative offerings as possible, but must reach its annual goal urgently to ensure preservation of the theater and the thousands of puppets that call it home, the company said.

Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation were urged to visit bobbakermarionettetheater.com/donate.

The puppet theater moved into a former movie house on York Boulevard in 2019 after a developer purchased its original home in Echo Park for a residential development. 

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