Present at the talk was Myself, Sue Buckmaster, Alex Lehman, Alison Alexander, Charlotte Dubery and Chloe Purcell along with Collette Knowles who joined later.

As a young professional I have found that it is very difficult to be represented as a puppeteer, I was interested to know if others had the same issue. There are no dedicated agents who represent just puppeteers and similarly, no unions. Equity is a service that many puppeteers are signed up to but it still doesn't have the kind of dedicated advice and help it provides actors, mainly because they don't seem to have the knowledge or expertise in the field.

We started by discussing what a Union would do…

*Makes puppetry more professional

*Makes you aware of your rights

*Prevent this misrepresentation/underrepresentation for those working in the field of puppetry

We discussed how it could help…

*Providing advice and professional guidance, eg:

-Downloadable templates of contracts for the puppet industry

-Guidance for rates of pay for puppet performers/makers/directors/producers/consultants (like Equity do for actors) This could be decided with the use of a peer group comprised of the leading puppet companies and organisations in the UK

We spoke about why organisations like PUK, BRUNIMA and The BMPG are not working for us as the current leading organisations solely representing puppeteers and why. The consensus is that many of these are outdated and difficult to access. They are not keeping up with social media. People felt membership is paid and there are very little benefits to being a member other than a newsletter.

We discussed the possibility of approaching Equity to discuss the representation of puppeteers and the possibility of having a puppet committee within Equity. It was agreed that encouraging an established organisation like Equity to update their representation would benefit the whole of the puppetry community and is definitely worth doing.

We concluded that we wanted to create ‘Puppet Union’ - an organisation which can provide advice and professional guidance for puppeteers as well as teaching puppeteers their rights and how to be valued. The first things we aim to do are create templates of different downloadable contracts for puppet professionals and start to compile suggestions for what reasonable rates of pay are.

We asked Slavka if there was the possibility of us using a space at the Little Angel to get things started. We also discussed if the Puppetry Consortium would be able to support the idea with peer advice and guidance.