Building a Better World

The International Storytelling Center is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization and the premiere educational, arts, and cultural institution dedicated to enriching lives and building a better world through the power of storytelling.  Our work falls broadly into three categories: performance, preservation, and practice.

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


Performance includes ISC’s staged events, which span storytelling, music, spoken-word poetry, other oral traditions, and emerging forms. Our signature programming includes Storytelling Live! and the National Storytelling Festival. Each year, we produce more than 300 hours of live performances on our stages.

Storyteller Carmen Deedy at the NSF


Preservation efforts celebrate and protect oral traditions from around the world at the levels of individuals and families, communities, and regions, as well as shared cultural heritage.


Practice (which we sometimes call “applied storytelling”) is how stories are used in the real world. ISC is inspiring and empowering people to use storytelling to address real-world challenges and promote positive change. Stories build healthier communities, more effective workplaces, and more excellent schools. They broker peace and boost business. Stories support health and wellness, institutional change, scientific advances, and so much more.

Our Story

On a warm October day in 1973, the town of Jonesborough hosted the first National Storytelling Festival. The first event of its kind anywhere in the world, the Festival ignited a renaissance. People around the world have since rediscovered the power of a story well told from the storytelling capital of the world.