Thank you ...  and an apology

To the editor:

Late Saturday afternoon the committee of women who worked on the Children and the Arts Festival gathered together to share our highlights of the day.

Our highlights included the dedication of a 92-year-old woman who volunteers every year; the delight of a 4-year-old girl at the Nappy’s shadow puppet show every time she got the right answer; the crowds of children and parents making art at the Unitarian Church; the wonderful sunny day for the festival; the extraordinary production of Dragon King by Tanglewood Marionettes; and seeing the old Giant Puppets come back to life after years in a barn.

By far our most meaningful highlight was the community, who in such large numbers supported our children and youth. These were just a few of the moments that we found to be special, and hope that you experienced many of your own.

Additionally we appreciate the venues in town that are made available; the teachers who work with their students to produce art; the donors who step up to help financially; the many volunteers that made this possible; and mostly our children who provide the inspiration. Thank you.

We had over 50 program offerings for the festival, and each year we try to balance familiar programming with new and different performers. The scale of this task usually means we cannot see every performer or group beforehand, and our due diligence relies on phone interviews, PR material and recommendations from others. Mostly we get it right, but sometimes we don’t.

Such was the case with Bread and Puppet, who we selected because they were the original inspiration behind our parade of giant puppets and consistent with our theme of Puppet-Palooza. We believed they would be a creative and family appropriate performance, providing a different and unusual kind of theater that would broaden the program offerings.

We made a mistake, and wish to sincerely apologize to any viewers who were offended by the political nature of their performance. It was not our intention, but in hindsight we should have seen the political focus of their work as a mismatch with our mission of apolitical and family friendly performances. We learned a good lesson, and will make sure to provide additional vetting factors in the future.

We sincerely apologize to any who was offended and hope that the overall experience of this year’s festival was still a joyful and positive one.

Like the Parade of Giant Puppets, we will continue to march on, hopefully better and better every year.

Children and the Arts Festival Committee

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