The Center was chosen by the Ford Foundation as one of 28 national organisations acknowledged for its successful innovative and management programmes. The Center was awarded grants on three separate occasions by the Kresge Foundation, in support of the Center’s capital campaigns.
The 1996 Olympics chose the theatre group as the only one allowed to take part in each of the four years of its arts and festival programme, which resulted in Newsweek describing it as “one of the most exciting companies in American theater.”
In 2008, the Center’s education department won the Microsoft Education Award, as a Laureate of the 2008 Tech Museum Awards. UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette – International Puppetry Association) awarded the Center the Citation of Excellence, the highest award in puppetry, a record 13 times.
Anthony was an aspiring puppeteer when he started touring with the New York-based Nicolo Marionettes. Nicholas Coppola took Anthony under his wing. By 1966, however, Anthony desired to seek out a small community so that he could have a more active role to play within the group. He teamed up with another gentleman, Mitchell Edmonds, who had also rocked with Nicolo. The pair decided to start a company of their own and relocate to Atlanta. The company was called the Vagabond Marionettes.
Vince dreamed of creating a centre solely for the purpose of promoting puppetry and becoming an essential part of the art’s community. The two men formed a touring company, making their way around the southeast presenting a number of seasons at Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. It was in 1978 when Anthony found a place he could permanently call home when he came across the form of Spring Street Elementary School. We were seeing the birth of the Center.
None other than Jim Henson, with the aid of his green friend Kermit the Frog, cut the ribbon to formally open the venue. The Center presented a puppetry exhibition in its first season, with shows for both families and adults. It also put on activities and workshops for the community that are still available today.
Since it was established, The Center has continued to work tirelessly to do what it can to help Atlanta’s diverse populations, Georgia as a whole, and even the country. It reaches out to the community via its education programme, museum, performance, and core programming.
Past performances include the Dinosaurs and the 1940’s-based The Shoemaker and The Elves. The New Directions Series has a reputation for being visually impressive and thought-provoking. Each individual show comes with its own recommended age limit. The shows are put on by by both visiting companies and local artists.
The Film Series comprises hidden gems, modern productions, and classic flicks. They may not be performances exactly, but they’re all related to the art of puppetry, and we’ve seen numerous fantastic flicks over the years, either with a main puppetry cast or with legendary puppet-based characters such as Yoda in a little film called Star Wars.