I was very sad to learn that Diane Houk, Executive Director of the Puppetry Arts Institute in Independence, Missouri passed away yesterday.
The Puppetry Arts Institute is one of the key centres for puppetry in the MidWestern United States. It was founded in 2000 by a group led by Diane in part to honour the memory of Hazelle Hedges Rollins, founder of Hazelle Marionettes, which was based in nearby Kansas City and was at one time the world’s largest puppet manufacturer. Diane saw the Institute’s mission as “preserving and promoting puppetry through education and entertainment for all ages,” and was especially passionate about helping Midwestern children develop an international perspective.
Diane was featured in this instalment of a local Missouri series called Arts Upload last month:
Diane was a deeply committed advocate for the art of puppetry in the United States. Her death is a huge loss to the American puppetry community. My deepest condolences to her family, friends, and everyone at the Puppetry Arts Institute. I know she will be missed.