Loading cart...

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

2015 Story Slam

Meet Jan Magee

It’s National Tell a Story Day!

Tennessee Arts Commision launches new Gift-A-Tag Campaign

Dill Pickers

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


          Kate Campbell

          Pipp Gillette

          Announcing the 2015 Teller-in-Residence Lineup

          I Needed to Unplug to Recharge

          Our Year in Review

          Holiday News at the International Storytelling Center

          National Storytelling Festival: My Story

          Introducing Anita Norman

          International Storytelling Center receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

          Expanding the Circle

          A First Timer’s Trip

          Tim Lowry in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

          Stamp of Approval