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By Lynne Jennings, Board President, San Diego Guild of Puppetry

November 5, 2012 (San Diego)--To our dismay, we discovered last week that our small, hard working, non-profit has been unjustly portrayed for months in Steve Danon's campaign for SD County Board of Supervisors Seat  #3. Although it is clear that he does not feel the arts are worthy of funding(as is his right), he has for some reason made our small arts organization a prime target on his website and in the media. A refrain he has repeated over and over again has been: "No more  $10,000 taxpayer paid funds to the San Diego Guild of Puppetry”. Since we were mentioned specifically in E.A.Barrera's May 23, 2012 article, “Danon Seeks to Shake Up a Stagnant Board of Supervisors” We hope you will help us set the record straight  and let your readers know who we really are, what we actually do, why we were worthy of the one time $10,000 grant we received from the Board of Supervisors in 2004, and why we are worthy of continued funding.

We are a small, deeply committed, grassroots organization, operating on a shoestring budget.  Our mission is to introduce our San Diego County audiences to the magic of the puppet theatre experience through performances, education outreach and special events. The focus of our education work has always been on serving underserved communities, and we dedicate the vast majority of the funding we receive to them, bringing in free or low cost, in depth, classroom residencies, assemblies and giant puppet parade programming. Each year we serve over 1000 students at our partner schools: Freese Elementary in Southeast, and Monroe Clark Middle and Rosa Parks Elementary in City Heights. As we procure more grant underwriting, we will be able to serve more schools.

Although Mr. Danon views us as unworthy, those who fund us every year (the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the California Arts Council and the Dr. Seuss Foundation) feel otherwise. Still one of the smallest organizations to receive OSP funding from the City, we consistently score at or close to “model ranking” and this year we were honored to be one of 8 non-profits in the entire state to be awarded two year funding from the California Arts Council based on the quality of our programming.

Here are a few quotes testifying to the value of our work:

While the children learned a vast amount of skills of creating puppets and making them come to life, what they learned was so much more than that. The turn taking, respect for each other, and acceptance of deas that are different than their own are all skills they will take with them through life….To walk in and see parents working side-by-side with their children was truly special and something that we work on daily here at Children's services: getting the parents involved in what is important to their children.

-- Jennifer Ryan, Children's Services Program Manager, St. Vincent de Paul Village

You pushed me into working harder and didn't let me give up. You made me laugh. When I needed you, you were there for me to help. Thank you for not letting me give up…on myself.

-- 6th grader, MCM

I loved going to puppetree. I like the countdown. I like the caterpillar conga. I hope we get to go to puppetree agin.

-1st grader, Freese Elementary, with her own unique spelling

We invite you to come see what we do, talk to the people we work with, and ask all the questions you would like. We are justifiably proud of the work we do, and would like the community to know us for what we are, rather than the way we have been portrayed in Mr. Danon's campaign. We hope you will help spread the word to your readership. For more information, visit   www.sandiegoguildofpuppetry.org

The views in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

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