Did you know that the International Storytelling Center was established as an educational and cultural institution? An important part of our outreach work is promoting learning through storytelling. We’re always exploring new partnerships and finding new ways to connect with young people—all so we can inspire the next generation of storytellers.
We’re “recruiting” fresh faces to storytelling in a wide variety ways. Last year, we became a ticket subsidy venue through the Tennessee Arts Commission. And on top of that popular program (through which we offer more than 1,300 complimentary admissions to schools), support from the Niswonger Foundation has allowed us to reach more than 5,000 kids from around the world with real-time streaming video from the Festival. Just like last year, the livestream will be broadcast from the Family Tent on Friday. And our relationships with partners like Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort are helping our message reach a whole new audience.
Central to our outreach efforts is the belief that for young people to be inspired, they must see themselves at the center of culture—not at the fringes. That’s one reason we started working with organizations like Poetry Out Loud that mentor exceptional young talent. Last year’s winner, Anita Norman, became ISC’s first ever youth ambassador. She wrote her college application essay about performing at the National Storytelling Festival in 2014—and it landed her a spot at Yale! Check out her essay on the ISC blog.
Our approach to education is multifaceted, starting with our commitment to excellence in every aspect of our programming. ISC has a long history of partnering with educational institutions like Harvard, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Google Cultural Institute on research, development, and cultural outreach. As the world continues to embrace exciting new ways to share stories, we plan to be there every step of the way, building a better world through the power of storytelling.
The National Storytelling Festival is a magical three days, and we strongly believe that it can be shared—not just through one-off events like our livestream, but also by encouraging young people to take a life-long interest in learning. As we continue to develop new resources, including toolkits, curriculum support, and robust archives, we hope to make storytelling a critical component of everyone’s education.