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Heart of the Beast selling theater, cutting down its puppet collection

The nonprofit is also considering a name change.
Tree of Life ceremony at Powderhorn Park in 2018.

Tree of Life ceremony at Powderhorn Park in 2018.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), which puts on Minneapolis' MayDay Parade, is selling the Avalon Theatre and downsizing its puppet collection.

The nonprofit, which has called the Minneapolis theater home since 1988, shared the news on Thursday

HOBT has been working this year to "restart" the organization and adapt to the impacts of COVID-19, and as a result the HOBT Board of Directors, based on input from staff and the MayDay Council, voted to sell the Avalon Theatre.

In addition to finding a new home, HOBT is considering a name change and is moving out of its puppet warehouse, where it stores thousands of puppets in its collection. The plan is to return the puppets to the artists who created them and/or to museums locally and nationally that will preserve and exhibit them.

HOBT plans to maintain a smaller collection of puppets to continue its work. 

"We considered every path forward that would put us in the best possible position to live out our mission and carry the important work of the MayDay Council into the future," HOBT said. 

HOBT plans to find a "new, smaller home" that's "more sustainable and accessible" so the nonprofit can "live into our vision of a decentralized MayDay," which it sees as creating a variety of ways throughout the year "to celebrate and honor the roots of MayDay" instead of just one large celebration on the first Sunday in May. 

The nonprofit hopes to find a storefront in the Phillips or Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis that has a small performance space, a classroom for teaching, and a small storage area for the puppet collection it will keep. 

"We have come to these decisions out of a fierce commitment to the power of puppet and mask performance to create new ways forward together with our beloved community," HOBT said. "We give abundant gratitude for all the brilliant work done over the past 48 years: the many artists, staff, board members, and volunteers who have given their whole hearts to the work of HOBT. Thank you!"

Related [Jan. 9, 2019]: Why this year's MayDay Parade in Minneapolis could be the last

The changes for HOBT were in the works before the pandemic. The nonprofit was forced to cancel the 2020 parade because it could no longer produce the event alone. There wasn't a 2021 parade either, and a staff member told the Star Tribune they "do not plan to produce a full-scale parade" in 2022 either, instead focusing on smaller-scale neighborhood events.  

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