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Puppeteer Baker says it's too soon to panic

November 21, 2008|Elina Shatkin

MOCA isn't the only prominent L.A. arts organization facing a financial crisis. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater needs at least $30,000 to catch up on its mortgage.

Located between the skyscrapers of downtown L.A. and Echo Park, the theater has been staging whimsical puppet shows under the careful hand of owner and master puppeteer Bob Baker for 49 years.

The difficult situation was thrown into a tailspin last week when a well-meaning friend of the theater sent out a dire warning that if Baker didn't come up with the money by Dec. 3, then the theater would shut down.

"That's not true!" Baker said. "We're not closing, we're not selling the building and we're not in foreclosure. We do need $30,000. But if we don't get it by Dec. 3, the theater will not be sold."

Baker on Monday paid off some of his debt and is negotiating a payment schedule with his creditors that would allow him to keep the theater open. But the tanking economy has exacerbated the theater's financial woes.

Baker sells tickets to schools and educational groups for half the normal admission price, the main source of the theater's income. On Saturday, the theater launched "Bob Baker's The Nutcracker," which will run through the holidays.

-- Elina Shatkin

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