Thursday, December 10, 2009

Puppet Show Caught In Stimulus Spending Spat

A Minneapolis puppet show is caught up in the controversy over how some of the billions in economic stimulus dollars have been spent. Some members of Congress targeted the Heart of the Beast Theater as an example of wasteful spending. The theater, located on East Lake Street for 37 years, received a $25,000 economic stimulus grant. Kathee Foran, executive director of the theater, said the grant for which the theater applied had to be tied to a specific job. Foran said the money was used to save the job of their community program director--who duties include booking shows outside the theater that keep the puppet artists employed.Foran said, "An employed artist is as valuable as an employed computer programmer, employed plumber, employed contractor, employed construction worker." But Phil Krinkie of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota doesn't see it that way. Krinkie said, "A person benefits from this. A small group of people may go watch this show, a puppet show, that's nice, but is it necessary?" The Heart of the Beast theater employs the equivalent of nine full-time workers. They all took a big pay cut earlier this year when the recession forced the theater to close down for six weeks. The stimulus money is one thing helping them stay afloat now.