StoneLion Puppet Theatre
2025 Tracy Avenue
Kansas City MO 64108
Painted Lady Butterfly from our interactive show on backyard sanctuaries.
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 221-5351
Mission Statement
StoneLion Puppet Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to expanding the horizons of the young and young-at-heart through the art of puppetry in an interdisciplinary community of ethnic and cultural diversity.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Heather Nisbett-Loewenstein
Board Chair Mr. Larry Goodman
Board Chair Company Affiliation Computer Solutions
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2000
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement StoneLion Puppet Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to expanding the horizons of the young and young-at-heart through the art of puppetry in an interdisciplinary community of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Background Statement Incorporated originally as StoneLion Productions Inc. in 1992 by Heather Loewenstein, the theatre survived entirely on program fees from schools, businesses, and institutions within the greater Kansas City area. In 1994, the company received its first commission to produce environmental programming for the Kansas City Zoo in a summer-long production. The following years saw installations of similar productions in Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA, and Colorado Springs, CO while the company continued its touring schedule. After the corporate sponsor of the program suffered a financial set back, it caused the company to re-evaluate the likelihood and unpredictability of sponsorship vs. grant funding for such productions, and prompted some key decisions, including the commitment to become a non-profit entity and a renewed commitment to local and national touring to its traditional customer base. In 2006 StoneLion joined the Chameleon Arts Consortium which provided Kansas City Parks and Recreation sponsorship and the ability to reach a more under served population with free community art programming such as our Green Day Festival series. StoneLion continues its commitment to high-quality art in the local market while expanding nationally and internationally. In 2016 StoneLion was given US State Department Arts Envoy status for our work abroad.
Impact Statement

Locally, StoneLion presented over 400 shows and workshops here and abroad in 2016 and continued their successful Puppets for the Planet festival series which grew into "Illuminated Waters" a two day festival of giant puppets that glow in the dark on and off the waters of Brush Creek South of  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Memorial Day weekend. 

StoneLion’s environmental art education has been extremely successful this year. StoneLion received an Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 grant 2005-2016 allowing us to “Teach for the Future.” Artistic Director, Heather Loewenstein, along with our educational director, Shari Wilson, taught five master classes in universities in the four state region (NE, IA, MO, KS) for pre-service education majors on how to make art a vehicle to engage students and deliver curriculum, especially concerning climate sustainability within all subjects. Education majors developed intriguing art lessons of their own and received hands-on training within partner elementary schools. These lessons were distributed by StoneLion artists to another thirty schools in the region alongside our performances. 

Because of the success of this program, alongside our history of excellent art StoneLion received Arts Envoy status by the US State Department. StoneLion traveled to Fiji in August to conduct community workshops and master classes with students, teachers and local artists creating giant puppets for The Hibiscus Festival and giving performances at the invitation of the Fiji National University and the Fijian Arts Council with US Embassy support.

StoneLion also received a major grant from the State Department to travel to the Mekong Delta in early 2017. StoneLion is creating a new production and developing another master class series for teachers in universities in Vietnam and Laos. 

StoneLion’s Artistic director was invited to share this work as a featured presenter at the International Schools Grounds Alliance Conference in Lund, Sweden and The National Association for the Advancement of Environmental Education (NAAEE) Conference in WI this year. She was awarded the Lighton Foundation prize as Teaching Artist of the Year.

Needs Statement

StoneLion is looking for operational support and development advice. We do a lot with very little but our office staff of 1.5 is tired. We need to expand our management and delegate. We are looking for volunteers with the professional background and experience to guide us for the future. 

StoneLion is looking for volunteers and financial support to expand our popular Puppets for the Planet festival Series. This event has become the largest free community art event in the area. We are moving to a new location and expanding the culminating event to two days instead of just one. Last year one hundred eighty-nine volunteers performed in the giant puppet show “The Mermaid’s Tale” on Mother’s Day last year to thousands. This event has out grown its current space. We are looking for corporate and foundation sponsors to help with this and for community volunteers to help plan and shape the expansion. Some support is guaranteed but we need to raise at least $15,000 more.

Service Categories
Arts Education
Arts Services
Areas of Service
The US State Department in 2016 chose to award StoneLion Arts Envoy status. This has opened up many opportunities for work overseas as well as our national touring company.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

 I am proud to be on the board of StoneLion.  When I first started as a volunteer I had no idea the impact this group has.  It is more than beautiful puppets and entertaining stories. We produce magic. Seeing these puppets transforms children and adults. The joy and amazement that everyone gets is indescribable. It is a moving experience for people watching as well as the people performing. I don’t know of any activity that brings as much joy as these puppets do. I am, personally, affected every time I perform with them.

We have accomplished a lot!  Our Mother’s Day for Mother Earth had the largest puppets we have ever used including a 24-foot mermaid.  We have performed internationally including Dubai and Fiji.  We are growing our Day of the Dead Parade with Mattie Rhodes Center.  We also continue to expand our program of environmental education.  All of this without any admission charge.

There is still a lot to do.The growth that we have makes it harder on the volunteers and few staff members we have.  More paid staff is needed.  We still, also want to expand our art and need funds so we can experiment with different materials and effects.  One that we have started working with is environmental projections on the puppets and more technical illuminated puppetry. 

We are looking for dedicated volunteers who can assist us in charting our course for the future and development assistance to make it happen.

Board Chair

Description Illuminated Waters is a two-day water festival free to the public. This event is an expansion of our wildly successful annual Mother’s Day for Mother Earth giant puppet show. This festival will be a five-hour long event replicated on two different days over Memorial Day weekend May 25 and 26 from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. The event will take place in Theis Park (47th and Oak) utilizing the park, the amphitheater and the waters of Brush Creek. The festival portion of Illuminated Waters will feature up to five different areas of interest with specific themes such as reduction of pesticides or reducing plastic.This event will culminate in a giant evening puppet show including floating puppets actually on the waters. Imagine community volunteers from the ages of 2 on up alongside our professional performers manipulating illuminated puppets with a positive message about the need to protect our water. These puppets would then end the night with a puppet glow. Funding and volunteers are needed.
Program Budget $65,000.00
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Puppet Shows
Population Served General/Unspecified, General/Unspecified,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
This festival series' short term success is demonstrated by the numbers of individuals participating in the day's events including art activities, tabling and performance based interaction. We also believe it is the quality of the experience not just the quantity of participants. We at StoneLion believe some of our most successful festivals have a lower attendance rate because they are in areas of the community that do not regularly attend art events.  An example is last year's festival at St Mark Child Devlopment Center. Through our surveys we discovered almost 80% of the participants:
  1. Had never attended a theater performance.
  2. Had never recycled before. 
That day they were exposed to many different art forms in the neighborhood and had been given information on how and why we need to care better for our neighborhoods by recycling, not littering and using alternative energy sources. We found it interesting that most of the audience that day did not actually have children enrolled in the center but came from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Long-Term Success WHY: Our goal is to bring awareness to environmental issues in our own area and to provide realistic opportunities for change and involvement, while exposing our audience to a broad range of ARTISTIC mediums; puppetry, theater, music, dance and sculpture. This interactive project will enable community members of all ages, races, and socio-economic strata to become a part of the art of puppet-making and performance while celebrating the environment, and reminding the community as a whole of our impact on the world in which we live.
Program Success Monitored By Group surveys are sent to each community group we perform into asking for quantitative and qualitative feedback. Audience feedback from our general public programs are solicited both in a survey box and in volunteers polling random participants. Gate counts are a bit difficult to track as these events are generally outdoors and do not require tickets. We periodically quarter the audience participating and count individuals. 
Examples of Program Success
StoneLion's goal with this festival series is to involve neighborhoods in their community both by providing information and activities that convince them for the need to become engaged in their world around them and to explore the opportunities available to them in the arts. An example of this success is the fact that last year we had 210 volunteers helping put on the event. They performed in a show who's message was that each of must contribute to the works around us.
CEO Comments While StoneLion's requests are for our Environmental programming presently we are not only limited to this style of performance. StoneLion has successfully produced many literature and art inspired productions over the years and welcomes the opportunity to partner with other professional companies such as symphonies, opera companies, theaters and visual artists. Our art is community based and as such is influenced by that community's needs and wishes. Please see our website for all the
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Heather Nisbett-Loewenstein
Term Start Feb 1992

Heather Nisbett-Loewenstein, started StoneLion years ago when she discovered puppetry melded performance and design into one big lump of fun that could communicate complex ideas and messages in a way that traditional theater could not. Heather’s work as designer, puppet director and lead performer helped local PBS station KCPT win an Emmy for Bark Park Place. Directorial and design credits include The Continuing Adventures of Felicia Flash series and its latest installment Spelunk! Saving Our Springs. This entertaining series has focused on environmental issues in thirteen different productions, 2 DVDs, numerous television spots and literally thousands of performances across the country.  The summer of 2006 found Felicia performing 276 shows at The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, WA which won PDZA the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Education award. She has directed, written and/or designed over 125 productions for StoneLion as well as collaborated with published authors and professionl musicians to create unique and excellent work. Recently she was awarded the Lighton Foundation prize as Teaching Artist of the Year. She received the Kansas Association of Environmental Education Community Partner of the year award in 2013 and has been a featured presenter at two major international conferences in 2016. Heather holds degrees in theater from Boise State University and the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Senior Staff
Title Office Manager
Paid Full-Time Staff 2
Paid Part-Time Staff 2
Volunteers 200
Paid Contractors 14
Retention Rate 100%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 3
Native American/American Indian 1
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 3
Male 1
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Quarterly
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Under Development
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
  • StoneLion Puppet Theatre is a Parks Partner with the Board of Commissioners of The Kansas City Parks and Recreation and as such receives full support and sponsorship. 
  • StoneLion is a member of the Kansas City Young Audiences Touring Roster, The Missouri Arts Council Touring Roster, UNIMA International, The Puppeteers of America, The National Association for the Advancement of Environmental Education, International School Grounds Alliance and The Kansas Association of Environmental Education. 
  • StoneLion is in current artistic collaborations with Mattie Rhodes Art Center, Project Central and For the Sea. 
  • We are collaborating with Project ANOULAK, Creative Literacy Laos and Hong Duc University for our Mekong Delta Project "Hands Across the Waters."
Community Partner of ExcellenceKansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education2011
Regional Emmy in partnership with KCPT for Bark Park PlaceEmmy Awards for Television and Broadcasting1997
Teaching Artist of the YearLighton Foundation2016
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments Since our staff is fairly small, the Producing Artistic Director of our company also serves as the Executive Director and fulfills all functions for both positions. She answers directly to our Board of Directors. We are looking to expand the office management staff with volunteers or funding for a marketing/grant writer position. Presently the office manager handles all bookings.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Larry Goodman
Company Affiliation Computer Solutions
Term June 2016 to June 2019
Board Members
Ms. Deborah Barker Lakeside Nature Center
Ms. Tina Gipson DeLaSalle Center
Mr. Larry Goodman Computer Solutions
Mr. Fred Goodson Retired Theater Professor
Mr. Phil Kimmi Gynzyme Biosurgery
Ms. April Roy Kansas City Missouri Public Library
Mr. Eban Schaecter Xtime Inc.
MS. Paige Stonerock Private nurse
Ms. Melissa Straus Geo. P. Reintjes Co. Inc.
Ms. Bonnie Traner Allied National Inc.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 9
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 50%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 7
Standing Committees
Advisory Board / Advisory Council
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Advisory Board Members
Ms. Cheryl Kimmi KC Fringe Festival and grant writer
Mr. Lance Loewenstein Strawder & Loewenstein LLC
CEO Comments

StoneLion Puppet Theater is a thriving, urban arts organization that is working to enrich the lives of families and youth.  For over 20 years, StoneLion Puppet Theater has endeavored to expand audiences, develop educational programming and connect with the community while continuing to grow artistically.  StoneLion has found success in environmental education through community fairs, school and library shows, and even an annual ‘giant’ puppet festival:  Puppets for the Planet. 

StoneLion has connected with the inner city community and, without a fee, allowed audiences access to the arts that otherwise would not have been possible  The Board of Commissioners of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department has seen this impact and now provides a re-purposed building as StoneLion’s office space, puppet building space and storage.  StoneLion’s reach is not just a local one.  This unique puppet company has performed their shows from coast to coast and has even been asked to create and perform shows for The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.  The company has also traveled internationally with performances in Guatemala, Dubai, Sharjah and Cambodia.   

We are actively looking to add to our volunteer committees and board of directors. We are looking for help in Marketing , grant writing and governance to make the next twenty years as amazing as the last and to take StoneLion tot he next level.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $252,000
Projected Expenses $229,805
Spending Policy Income Only
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2015, 2014, 2013:  Financial data reported using IRS Form 990-EZ. 
  • Foundation/Corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$0$0$141,997
Administration Expense$174,690$139,071$21,623
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.091.180.78
Program Expense/Total Expenses0%0%87%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$483,596$453,888$431,507
Current Assets$119,999$52,276$17,631
Long-Term Liabilities$18,308$813$3,750
Current Liabilities$41,785$46,063$45,381
Total Net Assets$423,503$407,012$382,376
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.871.130.39
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets4%0%1%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountEnvironmental Protection Agency $50,100Johnson County Kansas Stormwater $27,272Missouri Arts Council $20,850
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountJohnson County Kansas Stormwater $37,420Missouri Arts Council $21,773Francis Family Foundation $7,500
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMissouri Arts Council $18,773Kansas City Young Audiences $15,764Mid America Regional Council $5,400
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Campaign Purpose Purchasing our own building and theater space. This campaign is being designed currently.
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years Yes
Organization Comments While StoneLion does not have a full audit we have a CPA that files our 990 forms. We are looking for funds or a grant that will help pay for a full audit of our financials opening up other grant opportunities.
Organization Name StoneLion Puppet Theatre
Address 2025 Tracy Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64108
Primary Phone (816) 221-5351
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Heather Nisbett-Loewenstein
Board Chair Mr. Larry Goodman
Board Chair Company Affiliation Computer Solutions
Year of Incorporation 2000