The bankruptcy of the International Storytelling Center is a sad affair and a concern to all citizens of Jonesborough, who recognize the great cultural and economic contributions that the Center and its programming bring to the town. For storytellers and storytelling proponents around the country and the world, however, it is a tragedy in the ancient sense, a drama in which the protagonists have pushed to an avoidable yet seemingly inevitable crisis. As a citizen of Jonesborough, a chronicler of the history of the storytelling movement, a past board member of the National Storytelling Network (NSN), and longtime supporter of both ISC and the National Festival, I would like to recount a version of this story which may help to fill some gaps in the narrative framed so far for the local press and public. In storytelling, point of view is all-important, and the tale is heard quite differently beyond the watershed of Little Limestone Creek.
For the first twenty years of its existence, the Storytelling Festival was produced by a hard-working partnership of storytellers from around the country who made up the Board of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (NAPPS), then the name of the Read more »
I have been trying for several months to find somebody – anybody – who is willing to articulate the International Storytelling Center’s position on the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Court filing and the breaking of the contract with the National Storytelling Network. I have failed to find anyone who is willing to write an editorial on the ISC perspective. I have decided to present the two court filings from the ISC and NSN on the matter. Heavily edited to leave out the sections that deal with the more legal technical arguments and just include the core values expressed.
I could easily find someone to write a editorial defending NSN – but it seemed one sided – so I am posting both perspectives in the organizations own words.
The Following is the ISC filing with the arguments for the voiding of the agreements that they had with NSN. I have removed about 40% of the filing that dealt with legal statements supporting the legality of voiding the agreements. I have left what is I consider the core moral arguments.
I have been trying for several months to find somebody – anybody - who is willing to articulate the International Storytelling Centers position on the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Court filing and the breaking of the contract with the National Storytelling Network. I have failed to find anyone who is willing to write an editorial on the ISC perspective. I have decided to present the two court filings from the ISC and NSN on the matter. Heavily edited to leave out the sections that deal with the more legal technical arguments and just include the core values expressed.
I could easily find someone to write a editorial defending NSN - but it seemed one sided – so I am posting both perspectives in the organizations own words.
The Following is the NSN’s objection to the ISC request for termination of contract with the 50% that deals with the legality of ending this form of contract removed. It is importnat to note that NSN board has withdrawn this objection from the court after being told that they would have to fight it up the appeals court process. Probably win after two years and a half a million dollars – most likely destroying both organizations and ending the National Festival as we know it.
The International Storytelling Center has asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to alter or annal nullify their contract with the National Storytelling Network.
This is a very personal moment for me – I am invested in the success of both these organizations. I am an active member of NSN and I believe that the ISC is essential for the success of the American storytelling revival. So who do I side with? I side with both organizations – being that I love them both – I am a child of two parents – long divorced – who are quarreling over money while the riches of the worlds drift through their fingers.
I know that many of you are mad at the ISC – I ask you to practice the better part of your nature and forgive… buy your tickets NOW to next years festival – I did – help this Jewel in the Crown of American Storytelling continue… I also ask the board members of NSN to defend NSN’s right to control the National Storytelling Festival and to negotiate with ISC as co-owners of the brand, name and event for the good of both organizations. Clearly no one wants to see ISC go down or NSN stripped of needed funding from the festival that represents members investment in the long term heath of the national storytelling festival.
Press Play to hear Jimmy Neil Smith about the future of the International Storytelling on the Art of Storytelling Center with Brother Wolf.
Photo Courtesy of Fresh Air Photo
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Jimmy Neil Smith
The Future of the International Storytelling Center
Jimmy Neil Smith writes…
In the early 1990s, I attended a conference of the Tennessee Arts Commission in nearby Johnson City. During the session, potter Bill Strickland spoke about the arts-based Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center in inner-city Pittsburgh an institution, founded by Strickland, that teaches low-income, inner-city youths an employment skill.
Strickland spoke eloquently about his institution and its program. His address was stirring and powerful. Then, as a closing, Strickland said, “I challenge each of you to go home and build an institution that confirms and makes real what you know.”
Strickland’s challenge inspired me.
Less than a year later, the National Storytelling Association announced the development of what would become the International Storytelling Center the organization’s first permanent home in 30 years and a “launching pad” for a series of national and international programs, products, and services.
It was Strickland’s challenge that would give birth to the institution that has become the International Storytelling Center. The Center campus now composed of the elegant Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, Historic Center Inn, and the Storytelling Read more »