Madcap Puppets, Cincinnati Landmark Productions join forces

March 16, 2017by madcap

Mergers are old hat in the corporate world. But in the arts community, they’re rarities.

So the announcement that Cincinnati Landmark Productions and Madcap Puppets would merge their operations came as a surprise to many in Cincinnati’s tightly-knit arts world.

Madcap will operate as a division of CLP, which operates the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre and the Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre.

Madcap, founded in 1981, tours productions throughout a 15-state area, performing in schools and museums and, in the case of the Cincinnati’s Festival of Lights, at zoos, as well. The group is a regular collaborator with orchestras, theaters and all manner of performances.

In the short term, little is expected to change for either group. But within the next year, the merger is likely to have a profound impact on both groups.

In 2012, Madcap purchased a 20,000-square-foot building at the corner of Harrison, Epworth and Urwiler avenues in Westwood. The intention was to renovate the building, which was built 1923 to house telephone switching equipment, and develop it into a facility that housed offices, classroom spaces and a 100-150-seat puppet theater. But fundraising stalled for the $4.2 million project and the building is dormant.

That’s where CLP comes in.

 “Funding, developing and opening a new facility is something that we’ve proven we can do,” says CLP artistic director Tim Perrino. Not only did the group develop an abandoned movie theater into the Covedale Center for Performing Arts, but it also found a variety of private and public sources of funding to build the $6 million Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre in East Price Hill in 2015. New market tax credits, which targets investment in low-income communities, were central to the Incline Theatre development. And they are expected to bring in upwards of $2 million toward this new project, as well.
“We – and I mean all of us involved – believe that, by creating an education center and puppet theater there, we will be building another home on the West Side that has a regional draw,” says Perrino.

There has been discussion of a merger for nearly a year and the agreement was finalized Tuesday after approval by both organizations’ boards.

The merger is a logical one. CLP already operates two theaters year round. And its Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre offers a robust regimen of theater education for teenagers. Madcap, with more than 600 performances a year in 15 states, has an annual audience of 160,000, many of them children.

“What we see is all the things that Madcap is, we don’t have,” says Perrino. “Their education abilities and expertise with young audiences is a perfect complement to what we’ve been doing.”