Jim Henson Foundation Now Accepting Grant Applications for Puppet Theater

Perhaps it was inevitable that we would allude to the passing of David Bowie in one of our posts. After all, the Thin White Duke touched upon seemingly all aspects of what you would call the "art world," including music, visual arts, and film.

We couldn't help thinking about Bowie after reading news that the Jim Henson Foundation is now accepting grant applications for puppet theater grants. Of course, we're referring to Bowie's starring role in the Henson film Labyrinth. The film encapsulates the inherent coolness of Bowie (pop stars weren't supposed to be such compelling actors!) as well as the technical innovation of Henson who, like Bowie, long sought to escape the constraints and conventions of his chosen field.

In fact, puppeteers interested in Henson funding should look at Labyrinth as a kind of an aesthetic road map to guide them along their grant solicitation journeys. As we previously noted in our profile on the Jim Henson Foundation, the funder is looking for more Goblin Army—a memorable component of Labyrinth—than Big Bird. In other words, while the foundation offers grants for the development of work for children and teenagers, it is also drawn to edgy, provocative, and occasionally dark material.

For example, a previous $5,000 project grant went to Brooklyn's James Godwin, whose solo puppet performance The Flatiron Hex is a peek inside a "parallel world of weird magick and an impending super-storm." Another grant went to San Diego-based Animal Cracker Conspiracy and its piece, Paper Cities, which "investigates man’s relationship with cities, with nature, and the impact of cities on nature."

Three types of grants are on the table for this recent funding cycle:

  • Production grants of $7,000 for the production of new works ready to be presented in 2017.
  • Workshop Grants of $3,000 for the development and workshopping of these pieces.
  • Family Grants of $4,000 for the development of new and innovative work specifically for children, families, and teenagers.

Letters of intent must be received no later than March 14, 2016. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal by September 12, 2016.

Click here for the full RFP.