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 the community.

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 children's games.

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 $40.00 in U.S. funds. The Storytelling Center is a not–for–profit corporation, and all donations to the Center are tax–deductible.

You may contact us at:

The Storytelling Center of New York City
c/o Daniel Meyer
144–18 78th Avenue
Apartment 1R
Flushing, New York 11367

This is a mailing address only. We do not have an office with visiting hours. Thank you for your understanding.