Loading cart...

This week’s teller in residence: Shonaleigh

Stories That Are Changing the World: A Report from Brazil

Peace be with you, through storytelling

National Storytelling Festival Named Top Tourist Attraction

Introducing ISC’s Youngest Volunteer

Win Big in Our Annual Story Slam

Brain injury survivors are storytelling their way to recovery

This week’s teller in residence: Kate Campbell

Becky Harrell

Pre-Festival Concert featuring Donald Davis

Donald Davis

    A Pre-Festival Event featuring Donald Davis

    Wednesday, September 30 - 7:30 P.M.
    Library Tent on the Festival Grounds

    It Happened in Church…But We All Survived
    Hear Donald’s stories of growing up in a family addicted Methodism! Featured at festival through the U.S. and world, Davis is know as a prolific author and recording artisit.

    Separate ticket required, $15 all ages.  For tickets or information call 800-952-8392 or Buy Now!

    For other ticket options to Donald’s Tellers-in-Residence week.

    Visit Donald’s website.

    *photo by Fresh Air Photo

    Festival Workshop presented by Minton Sparks

    Minton Sparks

      A Pre-Festival Workshop presented by Minton Sparks

      Thursday, October 1 - 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. •  Fee $75
      Class size is limited. Register early.
      Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall

      Burn Through Your Story: A Writing Workshop
      Each one of us a story about who we are. Through this writing workshop, Minton, founder of the Nashville Writing and Performance Institute, offers a unique opportunity to explore your family tree, listen deeply to your own story, and locate yourself within a particular time and place – all while learning new storytelling techniques. No writing experience necessary.

      For reservations or information call 800-952-8392 or Buy Now!

      Visit Minton’s website.

      Pre-Festival Concert featuring Jeanne Robertson

      Jeanne Robertson

        Sponsored by Carnegie Hotel

        A Pre-Festival Concert Featuring Jeanne Robertson

        Thursday, October 1 - 7:30 P.M.
        Library Tent on the Festival Grounds
        Separate ticket required, $20 all ages.  Buy Now!

        A nationally-known, award winning humorist and author, Jeanne has been featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes, performed at the White House, and can be heard daily on Sirius XM Radio, where millions nationwide hear her speak two lanugages fluently: English — and Southern!

        For tickets or more information call 800-952-8392 or click here to buy online

        Visit Jeanne’s website.

        2015 Story Slam

        The evolution of storytelling in WNC

        This week’s teller in residence: Pipp Gillette

        This week’s teller in residence: Andy Offutt Irwin

        In Memoriam, Syd Lieberman

        Storytelling Live! Spotlight: Andy Offutt Irwin

        ISC to attend White House Summit

        This week’s teller in residence: Elizabeth Ellis

        Storytelling for Peace

        ISC Remembers Syd Lieberman

        This week’s teller in residence: Connie Regan-Blake

        ISC Remembers Guy Hughes Carawan

        Meet the Tellers

        Dreaming Big with Dolly Parton

        Meet Jan Magee

        It’s National Tell a Story Day!

        Tennessee Arts Commision launches new Gift-A-Tag Campaign

        Dill Pickers

        Megan Hicks

        Antonio Rocha

        National Storytelling Festival 2015


        Andy Offutt Irwin

        Beth Horner

        Noa Baum - New Voice

        Noa Baum

        Jan Blake

        Jan Blake

        Adam Booth - New Voice

        Peter Cook

        Peter Cook

        Doug Elliott

        Donald Davis

        Doug Elliott

        Beth Horner

        Andy Offutt Irwin

        Sheila Arnold Jones - New Voice

        Susan Klein

        Susan Klein

        Bil Lepp

        Jay O’Callahan

        Mats Rehnman - International New Voice

        Mats Rehnman

        Kim Weitkamp

        Don White - New Voice

        Don White

        Evening Concert Featuring Tim Lowry

        Storytelling Workshop presented by Tom Lee

        Storytelling Workshop presented by Regi Carpenter

        2015 Civility Week - April 19-24 “Be Different, Be One”

        Donald Davis Gives TEDx Talk

        Tellers in Residence 2015

        Festival Preregistration discount period ends March 31

        Celebrate World Storytelling Day

        ISC Hires New Center Coordinator

        Creativity and Conflict Resolution

        Kim Weitkamp

        Children’s Concert with Angela Lloyd

        Children’s Concert with Won-Ldy Paye

        Children’s Concert with Andy Offutt Irwin

        Evening Concert Featuring Kim Weitkamp

        John McCutcheon to Appear in Special Concert on March 27th

        ISC Launches Storytelling Toolkit

        Meet Melani Douglass

        Standing Still

        Jessica Hartley

        Sharon Morgan

        A Quintessential Southern Wedding

        Kevin Kling

        Kay Simmons

        A Story in Progress

        The History of ISC

        Storyteller Jerry Clower, photo credit Jim Cooper

          The world’s storytelling renaissance began in Jonesborough, a tiny town in the mountains of Tennessee over 40 years ago.

          On a warm October day in 1973, the town of Jonesborough played host to the first National Storytelling Festival. The Festival was small, but something happened that October weekend that has changed forever our culture, this traditional art form, and this Tennessee town.

          Now in its 43rd year, the National Storytelling Festival was created by Jimmy Neil Smith, a former journalism teacher and mayor of Jonesborough. His inspiration, quite simply, was a well-told tale heard over a car radio—a story told by Grand Ole Opry star Jerry Clower about hunting in Mississippi. Why not a storytelling festival? Smith wondered.

          The first National Storytelling Festival, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, ignited a renaissance of storytelling that is, even today, far-reaching. People across America and the world are rediscovering the simplicity and basic truth of a well-told story.

          Ancient storytelling traditions are being recognized and reborn. Storytelling organizations, festivals, and educational events now dot the globe, and the professional storyteller, a fixture in more primitive times and cultures, has reappeared.

          The autumn festival, held under colorful circus tents scattered throughout Jonesborough, now attracts more than 10,000 visitors, and this first-of-its-kind event has become the flagship of the international revival of storytelling. Jonesborough, the Festival’s home, is recognized worldwide as the revival’s birthplace.

          Two years after the first festival, the National Storytelling Association was founded to spearhead America’s storytelling renaissance. For almost a quarter of a century, NSA served as the connecting point for this storytelling revival—the momentum behind this ever-widening movement.

          Today, NSA—now known as the International Storytelling Center—promotes the power of storytelling and the creative applications of this ancient tradition to enrich the human experience in the home, at the workplace, and throughout the world.

          Just as the first National Storytelling Festival gave birth over 40 years ago to a quiet revolution felt across the globe, we expect that over the next 30 years and beyond the work of the International Storytelling Center will help transform our world—making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and families, corporations and institutions, and communities and cultures everywhere.

          ISC’s Mission

          Our Mission

            The International Storytelling Center is dedicated to enriching the lives of people around the world through the arts of storytelling.

            It is our organization’s goal to inspire and empower people everywhere to capture and tell their stories, listen to the stories of others, and use storytelling to produce positive change. We believe that through the arts of storytelling, we can build a better world—healthier communities, more effective workplaces, and more excellent schools—and enrich lives.

            ISC’s Vision

            Doc McConnell's Medicine Show, credit Fresh Air Photo

              We live in a complex age—an era of social, economic, and civic challenges. Although concerned and dedicated individuals, organizations, and government agencies are addressing these challenges, the issues remain daunting.

              So, how can the International Storytelling Center help?
              How can we imagine—and bring into reality—a new horizon, a new tomorrow?

              Storytelling can’t directly feed the hungry, house the homeless, or cure the sick. Yet, we all have the capacity to tap into our stories, our narrative assets, and communicate more effectively.

              A well-told story can communicate truth, concept, or idea with immeasurable power. ISC is dedicated to connecting this powerful tool with the voices of individuals, organizations, and communities across the world to help them achieve their goals.

              Our vision is a better life, a better world, through the power of storytelling.

              To achieve this worthy vision, ISC is advancing the power and possibilities of storytelling and providing people across the world with the knowledge, experiences, and tools to effectively tap into the contemporary applications of this longstanding tradition.

              We are inspiring and empowering people worldwide to discover, craft, and share stories that:

              • Enliven and enrich performance—as teller and listener
              • Celebrate personal, community, and cultural heritage through the preservation of stories and story traditions
              • Enhance community services, health and wellness, and education through the professional practice of storytelling.

              During the coming months and years, ISC will expand program offerings to provide the knowledge, experiences, and tools of storytelling to help people around the world tap into the power of this ancient tradition, pursue passions, and realize potential—in the lives of individuals, in communities, and cultures. 

              The International Storytelling Center is dedicated to inspiring and empowering people across the world to tell their stories, renew their storytelling traditions, and tap into the power of storytelling to build a better life and a better world.

              Our Values

              • We believe in integrity, open-mindedness, transparency and acting responsibly
              • We respect all visitors, storytellers, supporters and our international communities as equally as we respect ourselves.
              • We are committed to excellence in everything we do.

              ISC is pursuing three program strategies to achieve the new vision:


              Through a global advocacy campaign, ISC is:

              • Promoting the possibilities of storytelling
              • Creating awareness of and appreciation for storytelling
              • Building credibility for this longstanding tradition
              • Expanding storytelling audiences

              As a result of these grassroots efforts, more and more individuals, organizations, and communities across the globe are discovering, crafting, and sharing their stories.


              Through a global learning program, ISC will provide a series of innovative, educational opportunities to teach the power of storytelling. Through this program, ISC introduces the power of storytelling, serves as a connecting point for a community of learners, and provides a resource for learning the creative applications of storytelling.

              The learning program will include online courses, subscriptions to educational services, and a series of symposia and mini-conferences under the banner of the Horizon Global Forum—all fueled by research, study groups, and pilot projects.


              A worldwide beacon and a center of excellence for storytelling, ISC’s campus is located in Jonesborough—the small Tennessee town that gave birth to the world’s storytelling renaissance. Known affectionately as the storytelling capital of the world, Jonesborough and our campus are providing expanded, on-site opportunities to experience the power and potential of storytelling.

              Jonesborough-based activities now include the National Storytelling Festival and Storytelling Live!, ISC’s teller-in-residence program. In the future, a series of visitor experiences showcasing storytelling will also be added to ISC’s Center offerings for visitors. 

              A Story In Progress

              A Story in Progress

                As our changing world constantly presents new ways to craft and share stories, as an organization, we’re excited by these possibilities. The mission of the International Storytelling Center has always been to enrich lives through story, through arts and the oral tradition of storytelling. Our new vision, A Story In Progress was born of a strategic planning session with our board, but it’s been more than 40 years in the making. 

                It’s time to expand our programmatic reach,  as we focus on our seven key strategic steps to Innovate, Engage, Grow, Connect, Educate, Communicate, and Earn.  We invite you to join us as we build a better world through the power of storytelling.

                Telling Stories for Peace

                Tom Lee

                Linda Gorham

                Ellouise Schoettler

                Ellouise Schoettler

                Will Hornyak

                Odds Bodkin

                Odds Bodkin

                Angela Lloyd

                Megan Wells

                Won-Ldy Paye

                Won-Ldy Paye