We are the Storytelling Center
The Storytelling Center, Inc. is New York's premier storytelling
organization, offering workshops, swaps and special events. Founded
in 1982, the Center has been at the heart of New York's
storytelling and the United States.
The Storytelling Center's mission is to promote excellence in
storytelling by providing opportunitiesto share resources, meet
other storytellers, learn skills, and explore stories of enduring
meaning. The not–for–profit Center also strives to increase public
awareness of storytelling as an art form. It was founded in 1982 by
four of America's most prominent tellers — Diane Wolkstein, Laura
Simms, Gioia Timpanelli, and Larraine Ackerman — who have been
central figures in the renaissance of storytelling in the United
States. Together with about twenty–five people, they gathered in
Laura Simms' loft to plan the Center, which grew quickly into a
vibrant organization offering both inspiration and practical skills
to new generations of storytellers.
Over the years, the Center has offered monthly workshops on the art
of storytelling led by regionally, nationally and often
internationally known professional storytellers. Master tellers,
teachers, authors, anthropologists, and poets from around the world
have explored topics such as Oral Tradition, Mythology, Story and
Healing, Storytelling and Literacy, Storytelling and Business,
Personal Storytelling, Sacred Stories, Urban Tales, and
storytelling techniques in the Workshops and special events.
In the early years of the Center, workshops were held in the
Oragami Center, the loft of Lillian Oppenheimer, whose warm
hospitality helped the Center bring together dozens of early
pioneers in the storytelling movement.
The Center holds open mike swaps at which teller have the
opportunity to try out new and polish old material. Swaps offer a
supportive artistic environment to share works–in–progress, with
emphasis placed on developing a personal style and exploring story
meaning. Many novice tellers, now established, got their start at
these swaps. Equally important, the swaps have provided a place for
"non–pro" tellers to tell their stories and receive the support of
In addition, the Center participated for many years in New York
is Book Country each September, one of the City's biggest
street fairs. From a booth shared with the National Association of
Black Storytellers on Fifth Avenue, the Center gave out information
on regional and national storytelling and storytellers as well as
producing an all day storytelling marathon which attracted large
crowds of listeners.
The Center usually produces at least two major concerts a year: the
November Tellabration!™, and a Desert Party storytelling
concert in June. Tellabration!™ events have been held in a
wide variety of venues over the years, including the Roger Smith
Hotel, the New York Open Center, the CUNY Graduate Center, St.
Hilda's & St. Hugh's Day School, and most recently the
Children's Aid Society in Greenwich Village. The Tellabrations have
included multiple concerts for adults, concerts for families,
swaps, and workshops.
In 2005, and in conjunction with the national Story Tsunami
committee, the Center produced two very successful benefit concerts
— one for families at St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's School, and an
evening concert at the Provincetown Playhouse which included
storytelling, music, an exhibit of photographs from south India and
Sri Lanka, and a video exhibit of South Indian storytelling and
The Center has also co–produced programs with other organizations
and individuals such as Playing with Story — Story as Group
Play: A Workshop for Storytellers (1991), which was
co–produced with the New York Public Library to bring Margaret Read
MacDonald to the Donnell Library Center; Stories: The Voice of
Peace (1988), a weekend conference co-sponsored with the
Jewish Storytelling Center and Beaver Conference Farm; and
Everychild (1983), for a national conference held by the
Children's Book Council. The Center has also produced special
events for storytellers visiting New York, such as the 1995 evening
with Scottish storyteller David Campbell, and a special evening
with Swedish teller Ulf Arnstrom.
The Center's members include lovers of stories as well as
professional tellers who work in settings as diverse as schools,
homeless shelters, prisons, and even the White House in Washington,
D.C. Many members volunteered or were hired after the events of
September 11, 2001 to offer performances and workshops for adults
and children — and thus help with the healing process. Other
members are teachers, librarians, and members of helping
professions who use storytelling as part of their practice.
The Storytelling Center of New York City has periodically taken
stock of what it is, what it wants to be, and where it is going. In
the Fall of 2005, the Center tried a new format by combining
performance and panel discussion format in a very successful
evening by four well known New York storytellers. This was preceded
by a swap. The event was held at a downtown theatre and brought in
a diverse audience, many of whom were first time attendees at
Center events. That is but one example of the Center's willingness
to look for ways to reach out to a broader audience.
Through its website, the Center continues to reach out to the
broader storytelling community both in New York and beyond, with
articles of interest and announcements of concerts, workshops,
classes, etc. Its goal is to reach both its base constituency and
beyond, with information, opportunity and community.
The Storytelling Center, Inc. of New York City — coordinated by a
small, all volunteer Board of Directors — has been a major force
for storytelling in the New York metropolitan area for more than
two decades, promoting excellence and community. It has brought
many people into the family of "story," offered vision and purpose,
and has had a major impact on storytelling in New York City.
Membership includes free admission to the swaps, a printed and
mailed newsletter, and reduced workshop rates. Members may also
participate in storytelling programs. The annual fee is $36 in U.S.
funds. The Storytelling Center is a not–for–profit corporation, and
all donations to the Center are tax–deductible.
Our current mailing address:
The Storytelling Center, Inc.
c/o Robin Bady
85 Chester Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11218