Inspired by Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont, David O’Fallon and Ray St Louis founded HOBT (originally called Powderhorn Puppet Theatre) in 1973. The theatre initially worked out of the basement of Walker Church in Minneapolis’s Powderhorn neighborhood, and was closely connected to Powderhorn Park from the very beginning.
The first MayDay Parade & Festival took place in 1975 and has come to be celebrated annually by tens of thousands of people. From 1977 to 2015 Sandy Spieler served as Artistic Director of the theatre. From 2015 – 2019 she along with Bart Buch, Alison Heimstead, and Steve Ackerman, acted as an Artistic Leadership Team.
Since it’s founding HOBT has been creating original productions, touring performances, annually producing the MayDay Parade & Festival, teaching in schools, and working with various communities and activists to create theatre that brings people together for the common good. For a more detailed look at the rich history of HOBT and the many people who influenced and shaped the theatre, see the book Theatre of Wonder: 25 Years In The Heart of the Beast.
This is an exciting moment at HOBT as we rebuild from scratch an equity-focused, community-centered MayDay Celebration and the organizational structures to support it. We are working with Free Black Dirt to convene for the first time this month a majority IBPOC MayDay Council to lead the design process. While we have much to prove as a historically white-led organization, we are committed to a process that leads us to a majority BIPOC board and staff as well. Much more about HOBT’s organizational transformation is available at hobt.org/imagine.
We know that arts organizations across the state are struggling with similar issues of funding shifts, a failing business model, leadership transitions, and the underlying systemic racism that even in our remarkable arts sector contributes to Minnesota’s staggering racial gaps in education, employment, income, wealth, and justice. In November 2019, HOBT’s board passed a resolution with a goal to become a majority IBPOC board in less than a year. Along with board members reaching term limits in 2020, HOBT intends to add 4-8 new board members in the coming year. We don’t claim to have all of the answers, but are excited to be acknowledging the challenges openly and rebuilding equity-focused structures from the foundation up.
In January 2019, HOBT announced significant reductions to staff and programming. HOBT remains committed to its vision of building creativity, empathy, and interconnection in its core neighborhoods. HOBT’s tens of thousands of supporters want us to continue our work. We believe transformational change is possible that will lead to a more resilient future organization.
Below are the resources and statements we have shared that have guided our work in creating a more resilient organization, and a more equitable and accessible MayDay Celebration.
Annual budget: $700,000 – Foundations, Individual Contributions
HOTB is seeking board members with skills in the following areas:
- Board Governance
- Financial Management
- Management and Leadership
- Strategic and Business Planning
In November 2019, HOBT’s board passed a resolution with a goal to become a majority BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) board in less than a year. Along with board members reaching term limits in 2020, HOBT intends to add 4-8 new board members in the coming year.
- Number of members currently: 9
- Meeting time and frequency: 12 board meetings plus once/month committee meetings
- Meeting location: Minneapolis
- Time Expectation: Up to 8 hours/month
- Financial Contribution Required: Yes, at a level meaningful to the board member.
- Service on Committee Required: Yes
- Length of Term: 2 Years
- Renewable: Yes
- Does nonprofit carry liability insurance? Yes