End of Year Reflections

Every year around this time, I try to take a few moments to consider what we at ISC have accomplished as an organization over the course of the year. For 2020, there was a lot to think about! This year challenged us (as it challenged everyone) repeatedly, to say the least. But the upside of that has been that we have found our work to be more fulfilling than ever.

The twists and turns that the world put us through this year provided a lot of opportunities to stretch and grow. When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, none of us had any idea how the year would play out. Our top priority was to keep people safe, including our staff, our tellers, and our audience. We were able to achieve that relatively quickly with the support of our audience and recovery grants. This allowed us to focus on the work: how we can use storytelling to respond to everything that has been going on in the world.

It has been a very busy year, and it has been so invigorating to look for new ways to use storytelling to bring people together. 2020 has been a year in which we’ve been required to spend so much time apart, but stories have helped bridge the gap and relate to one another in new ways. We worked hard to pivot our longstanding programs to best respond to the needs of the moment. We spent late-night hours connecting with colleagues in far-flung time zones. And we went through the difficult work of building a new digital delivery platform from scratch even as we were reimagining our world-class productions.

We also made history with the first online National Storytelling Festival! We knew we had succeeded when some folks who had been coming to Jonesborough for years with their families wrote to tell us about the tents they had set up in their yards (and the homemade swatches they wore) to watch the Festival online.

We believe that the strides we made in outreach are going to serve us for years to come, helping us reach new people, grow our audience, and find more applications for storytelling. We appreciate you helping us navigate it all. In the coming year, we’ll be looking for even more ways to serve you and your families. Oh, and keep an eye out for an exciting announcement about our Storytelling Online! series.

Storytelling is a powerful catalyst for change, empowerment, and relationship building—all things that the world deeply needs, now more than ever. We did great work under challenging circumstances in 2020. We’re confident that 2021 is going to be even more rewarding (and hopefully a little easier!). In the meantime, everyone at ISC is wishing you a warm and cozy holiday season, and a very Happy New Year.