StoneLion Puppet Theatre
2400 East Truman Rd.
Kansas City MO 64127
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
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer For over twenty- seven years StoneLion Puppet Theatre has been active in igniting the community to not only come to see our art but be a "Part of the Art" with several large activities needing volunteers of all ages. StoneLion does not sell tickets to our events/performances but feel all sectors of our community should have access to high-quality art and arts education/ This is accomplished by providing free programming sponsored by grant support and individual donations. Please help us continue this effort by donating and volunteering. has a donate button to make it fast and simple to support our work in the community. Our volunteers make our work possible through monthly volunteer nights, helping with marketing efforts, planning our giant puppet events and actually taking part in Illuminated Waters each Memorial Day weekend. To volunteer simply email our Artistic Director at or sign up on our contact page of our website.
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. In 2018 a big change happened as our twelve year understanding with KC Parks and Recreation came to an end when the city sold the building we were housed in. Instead of providing over 40,000 annually in free programming to the city in exchange for rent we purchased our own building. We are striving to continue to offer much of that programming but must find other ways to pay for it as our cash flow is tied up in our mortgage now.
Impact Statement

Locally, StoneLion presented over 286 shows and workshops here and abroad in 2018 and continued their successful "Illuminated Waters" a two-day festival of environmental art education, a giant puppet play performed by a cast of community volunteers and professional artists and a Glo party of  illuminated art, puppets and performances on and off the waters of Brush Creek South of  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Memorial Day weekend. Our Fall community projects partners with Mattie Rhodes Art Center for the illuminated "Calacas" parade celebrating our city's rich Latino history with a Day of the Dead parade through the Westside and street party First Friday in November.

StoneLion’s environmental art education has expanded to offering over 75 free school performances int eh area funded by local city governments and major workshops and symposiums training teachers overseas to use our art from and curriculum to deliver the message of climate sustainability, healthy eating and other social justice issues. In 2017, US State Department work included Suva, Fiji, Nakia, Laos, Than Hoa Vietnam. In 2018 the program was taken to Kyiv, Ukraine and will be in Puerto Lopez Ecuador in late 2018 and 2019. Symposiums in Bangladesh, Can Thoa Vietnam, Pnohm Penn Cambodia and Israel are being planned.

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. She was awarded the Lighton Foundation prize as Teaching Artist of the Year in 2016. 

 StoneLion is focusing currently on creating bridges within our local community for cultural sensitivity.  Our work with Global Ties KC is ongoing and an expanded partnership with Mattie Rhodes Art Center will be producing bi-lingual puppet shows and , if funding is found, an expanded Giant Puppet Parade for El Dia de los Muertos in the fall. StoneLion has added a partnership with a new Chinese NGO to create cross -cultural art exchanges in 2019.
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 recently had to move. Our Parks and recreation building was sold and this spurred a frantic search for funding. Our Board of Directors stepped up and helped us purchases a new home. This will eventually be a major improvement but the building and site needs work. This also meant a much larger overhead bill for the company. We need operations support and funding to buy signage, landscape our new lot for a teaching garden, parking lot pavement and insulation for our warehouse, to start. Once this is complete we can then start having public events and performances at this space.

Programming support is need to continue providing free community art festivals and experience to the area no matter what economic situation you may be in. "Illuminated Waters", The Calacas giant puppet parade for the Day of the Dead, Waterfire and school outreach, all need support to continue especially since we now have a mortgage to cover.

Service Categories
Arts Education
Arts Services
Areas of Service
Geographic Area Served Narrative StoneLion works locally and tours globally. For the past five years the US State Department has chosen to sponsor our work overseas in such places as Ukraine, Vietnam, Fiji, Laos and in 2019 Israel. This work is important but does not overshadow our dedication to the Kansas City metro area. StoneLion is currently working on a two year project with National Geographic Explorer Ziggy Livnat and the government of Eilat, Israel filming underwater scuba diving puppets in a campaign to educate stopping the use of singe-use plastic that reaches the Red Sea. This project is sponsored by The National Geographic Society.
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 23 and 24 from 6 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 $74,000.00
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 Development 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.
The unique one-of-a-kind event in Kansas City partners StoneLion Puppet Theatre with Mattie Rhodes Art Center. Mattie Rhodes is celebrating their 25th anniversary of El Dia de Los Muertos in KC and StoneLion is celebrating the 6th anniversary of creating a large glowing night parade of giant skeleton puppets(Calacas), traditional Mexican music, low rider cars, marching community members dressed in face paint and costume and parade floats from community organizations all celebrating the rich history of the Latino presence in our city. At t his time in our history we believe it is even more important to provide bridges of understanding among the diversity of our community. 
Mattie Rhodes has been busy with a capitol funds campaign for a new art center. Because of this, their funding for events such as this is down. IN order to continue the Calacas Parade this year, StoneLion must find our won funding. Please consider helping us keep this rich tradition alive.
We need funding! At least $3000.00 must be acquired before Sept 15, 2019 to hold this event. We also need volunteers to be in the parade and for community groups and individuals to participate with their own floats, cars and costumed marching. 
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Cultural Festivals
Population Served Families
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success StoneLion's determination will provide the means to continue this cross-cultural event in the hope that our long term goals will be met.
Long-Term Success StoneLion's goal is to provide a diverse audience and participation to this traditionally isolated event within the Latino community. We want to serve as the bridge to broader understanding and acceptance and be bringing different segments of our community together we will foster a greater sense of compassion for all.
Program Success Monitored By StoneLion will engage at least five different communities in this event outside of the traditional Westside Latino community where Mattie Rhodes and the parade resides. StoneLion will expand media coverage for the parade and will conduct audience surveys to determine it's artistic success.
Examples of Program Success StoneLion had a twenty-five year track record of following through on their commitments producing their own community festivals and art events. Past successful collaborations have included Kansas City Parks and Recreation, KCMO Public Schools, KC Creates, The City of Kansas City MO, Lucia Arial, Crescendo Conservatory and dozens of University and International Partners. If we are provided the funding, we can make this happen.
Our new home at 2400 Truman Road can be a catalyst of change in the area, bringing art and artist to a neglected part of our town. The newly renovated 18th and Vine district and ball park is just down the street and our vision is to connect to create a corridor of art and activity along Truman Road. We have begun that change with our first mural at Olive and Truman and wish to continue with creating a rotating sculpture garden and event space behind our building.

We are looking for funding to landscape and to give seed grants to local artist to produce work to be displayed. When that is accomplished StoneLion will start First Friday events and performances in our newly constructed rehearsal space inside 2400 ART.
Program Budget $32,000.00
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Architecture
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
StoneLion will beautify a blighted neighborhood.
StoneLion will provide access to art and performance in a neighborhood which does not receive such currently. 
StoneLion will provide an opportunity for artists to exhibit new work. 
Long-Term Success
StoneLion will bring visitors to the area. 
StoneLion will provide environmental education to the area to mitigate non source point pollution and storm water run off.
Program Success Monitored By StoneLion artistic team will jury the art work and track visitors to the events. StoneLion's management team will monitor all contractors and landscapers to create a harmonious outdoor exhibit space that will teach about mitigating storm water runoff.
Examples of Program Success This is a new program. StoneLion has currently hired one muralist to work on the major wall at Olive and Truman. Funding is being requested for landscaping the back lot and to hire more artists to exhibit their work int he spring and summer of 2019. Through word of mouth only, we have two sculpture wishing to show their work in the spring and another muralist(Scribe) to donate his time if we can raise funds to buy the paint for another mural.
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 professional 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.

Senior Staff
Title Office Manager
Paid Full-Time Staff 2
Paid Contractors 32
Volunteers 200
Retention Rate 100%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 1
Caucasian 2
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 Production. 
  • We are collaborating with Clara Luna and Peace Corp Ecuador for our project in Puerto Lopez Ecuador.
  • We are in collaborating with CanThoa University Vietnam, Project Central and Young Eco Ambassadors of Cambodia for a project in the Mekong Delta over the next two years.
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 BarkerLakeside Nature Center
Ms. Tina GipsonDeLaSalle Center
Mr. Larry GoodmanComputer Solutions
Ms. April RoyKansas City Missouri Public Library
MS. Paige StonerockPrivate nurse
Ms. Bonnie TranerAllied National Inc.
Ms. Kristin WicklundCommunity Volunteer
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 86%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 75%
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
Mr. Lance LoewensteinStrawder & Loewenstein LLC
Ms. Melisssa StrausBukaty INC
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, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $260,000
Projected Expenses $255,000
Spending Policy Income Only
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2018, 2017, 2016:  Financial data reported using IRS Form 990. 
  • Foundation/Corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201820172016
Program Expense$212,559$231,052$237,187
Administration Expense$0$0$0
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.000.811.17
Program Expense/Total Expenses100%100%100%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201820172016
Total Assets$411,075$435,624$478,444
Current Assets$392,326$435,624$470,069
Long-Term Liabilities$10,397$35,412$13,835
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$400,678$400,212$464,609
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201820172016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201820172016
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets3%8%3%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201820172016
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- --Suva Fiji Embassy $49,605
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- --KC Water Services $22,300
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- --Johnson County Public Works $18,750
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.
Other Documents
Organization Name StoneLion Puppet Theatre
Address 2400 East Truman Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64127
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