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 key strategic steps to Innovate, Engage, Grow, Connect, Educate, and Communicate.  We invite you to explore our initiatives and to join us as we build a better world through the power of storytelling 

Learning Library

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.

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Shero’s Journey

Shero’s Journey is part of our Stories for Change programming, a series of youth initiatives from the International Storytelling Center. Studies measuring self-confidence show that during pivotal tween years, a girl’s confidence and self-esteem take a major dip, more so than male peers her age, and that the dip is more likely to last into adulthood. This program aims to combat that dip and help girls feel more confident and capable. 

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Freedom Stories

Freedom Stories: Unearthing the Black Heritage of Appalachia is an ongoing series that marries performance and discussion, connecting prominent Black storytellers, humanities scholars, and community leaders with the public to trace this rich history and highlight the role that face-to-face storytelling has played in both African and Appalachian experience—from the first African arrivals in these mountains, to the shaping of a distinct culture, to the ongoing struggles for freedom and equality. This project is funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

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Meet our Partners

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Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa have joined forces to highlight the art of storytelling.  The resort is committed to maintaining and building new multigenerational storytelling traditions. The partnership leverages ISC’s expertise in planning, designing and using storytelling to assist with training, performances and other special activities that incorporate the art of storytelling into the DreamMore Resort & Spa experience.

Google Cultural Institute

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) has launched a digital partnership with Google’s Cultural Institute, a free online exhibition that explores the stories behind history’s most important historic and cultural moments. The exhibit focuses on the cultural impact of ISC’s signature event, the National Storytelling Festival, which is the largest and most prestigious storytelling event in the world.


The International Storytelling Center joined with MasterPeace, a grass-roots peace movement based in the Netherlands, to launch a global storytelling competition, offering all storytellers around the world a platform to share their personal experience about what inspired them to work for peace. The winning story was presented at the United Nations headquarters on September 19, 2014, the International Day of Peace. “The power of storytelling is unquestionable. By listening and telling our stories we can unite as one creative global human family and then together contribute to building a better world. We are delighted to have partnered with the international award-winning MasterPeace organization on this exciting project to celebrate UN International day of Peace.” Kiran Singh Sirah.

Alliance for Peace Building

The National Storytelling Festival is the International Storytelling Center’s signature program, but ISC is also active on the global stage, fulfilling it’s mission to enrich the lives of people around the world through the arts of storytelling. The center’s goal is 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. As a partner with the Washington, D.C. organization, Alliance for Peacebuilding, the International Storytelling Center reinforces the importance of sharing stories to build peace among peoples and nations. ISC is active in numerous projects with AfP to promote storytelling and peacebuilding here and across the world.

Desmund Tutu Peace Foundation – USA

The storytellers performing in ISC’s 2014 programming were featured as part of the Desmund Tutu Peace Foundation – USA website and social media pages. The site also featured the National Storytelling Festival, which reached followers and readers worldwide and provided greater exposure to ISC’s website. 

Smithsonian Institution

ISC is one of only 100 affiliates of the Smithsonian Institution, nationwide. Through this partnership, the Center collaborates on Smithsonian’s programs to advance the cause of storytelling.

Library of Congress

In association with the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, ISC developed a national and international program to collect, preserve, and disseminate information and materials about the traditions, practice, and application of storytelling.

The repository for this information and materials is the International Storytelling Collection—located at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  ISC plans to provide on-site and online access to the Collection at our facilities in Jonesborough.


United Way

Following a successful regional workshop, ISC launched a national leadership training initiative for the United Way of America in 2008. Leading a series of workshops at the Center in Jonesborough and in venues across the country, ISC trained United Way leaders in how to use storytelling to enhance the organization’s communications efforts, fundraising events, internal management, and impact on communities. The collaboration marked ISC’s first opportunity to use storytelling as a training tool within a national organization.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Center engaged in providing opportunities for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to learn how to use storytelling to strengthen JPL’s programs in public awareness and formal and informal education.

Those opportunities included developing and performing stories of space exploration, conducting professional development through creative use of storytelling techniques, and conducting a research project that developed innovative strategies to enliven and enhance the teaching of space science.

Ballad Health

ISC has partnered with Ballad Health’s newest hospital. Unicoi County Hospital is not just a place for high quality care to treat illness, but is also a community center that fosters and encourages wellness. From storytelling-related elements embedded into the design, to community storytelling events and health literacy workshops, to specially story trained staff, Ballad is leading the charge of applied storytelling in healthcare for their patients and surrounding community.

Get Involved

Storytelling Live! 2018 is supported by Premier Sponsor, Ballad Health.  We are also supported by several other corporate, local business, media and national foundation sponsors, and we receive donations from private citizens know and the Friends of Storytelling Live!  Celebrate the Teller In Residence program and support The International Storytelling Center by finding out how you can participate in the program.

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