April Roy works as the branch manager at the L.H. Bluford Library, one of the branches of the Kansas City Public Library. During her personal time, she serves as president for the board of StoneLion Puppet Theatre. She has been on the volunteer board for nine years and has been president for two years.
“I am a librarian and I got to know StoneLion through the library shows,” she says. “I like their style and the message. Much of their efforts focus on bringing free art to generally under-served areas. After seeing a few shows, I knew I had to be involved and I was quickly recruited when I spoke up about my interest.”
The StoneLion board supports the non-profit needs. “Heather (Nisbett-Loewenstein, the founder) and the small staff have great artistic vision. We are a supportive role to Heather’s vision. We can provide feedback. We volunteer at events especially the community festivals. As board members, we get to experience part of the joy in seeing StoneLion Puppets in the community and how kids react to the puppets, the art projects and all the hard work we do.”
Roy came on the board before StoneLion started the giant puppet pageants. “The first big event was at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and we all got to see how it developed from that first event to the most recent event. The growth, literally, has been spectacular. It’s also been exciting to see how much Heather has learned from her trips to Dubai and other visits aboard and we can all see how these puppets have developed. The have changed artistically. It’s been fun to watch her crazy ideas come to life.”
Some of the recent recognition from outside sources, including the Kansas Stormwater Grant, pleases Roy. “We are always thrilled when we receive grants. I know that before I came on the board, StoneLion had a more traditional structure of a puppet theater with a structured season and ticket sales. However, with the grants, StoneLion acts more as a true non-profit. The crew offers up free art for the community and we as a board have encouraged that.”
As for the future, Roy expects StoneLion Puppet Theatre to be even more important. “As schools trim or cut art and arts funding, the community will need organizations like StoneLion to help fill that void. Kids who have never experienced the arts seldom appreciate art during adulthood. The Sunday in the Park with StoneLion initiative at the Westport Roanoke Community Center makes sure kids and families are experiencing art. They need to see the art and when art sticks with you, the impact can be immeasurable. It is so vital. To help make the experience even greater, we can always use more volunteers. We have plenty of committees that can use help such as hospitality or budget. If you call or e-mail, we will get you involved.”
Roy applauds Loewenstein for her energy. “Having someone with such strong artistic vision gives us all an easier job. We are a supportive board and being part of it is a great opportunity.”