Scottish International Storytelling Festival word is out

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival – one of the most admired storytelling events in the world – is now underway.

This year’s event, Beyond Words, will run until 31 October in Edinburgh, encompassing a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles.

Prepare to enter a world of stories within the Festival City. The 31st Festival celebrates old traditions and new connections, showcasing how music, dance and story communicate shared experiences that are ‘Beyond Words’.

First Nation and Scottish tradition bearers share their heritage, while contemporary narratives explore the role of storytellers in the 21st century.

Invited guests perform in Edinburgh and tour Scotland, encouraging grassroots storytelling in the community, showcasing over 80 storytellers from home and away.

This year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival is the first to benefit from increased funding. The Festival has been awarded £100,000 by the PLACE (Platforms for Creative Excellence Fund) set up jointly by the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council.

With this new support the Festival has created the world’s first Global Storytelling Lab, which will explore how storytelling worldwide can help tackle the Global Climate Emergency. The Lab will blend indigenous traditions with new tales of radical activism.

In addition to First Nation storytellers, the Lab will hear from Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Ontario, Brazilian storyteller Anamaria Lines fresh from a spell in the Amazon Rainforest, the Skye Seanachaidh Seoras Macpherson, and Extinction Rebellion activist Grian Cutanda. He will launch the world’s first anthology of Earth Stories, aligned with the principles of the Earth Charter, at the Lab.

Also funded is the Festival’s first Community Programme, supporting 100 locally led events across Scotland. From Sea Scouts to community woodlands, mental health groups to heritage sites, nature reserves to women speaking out, the Community Programme empowers Scotland’s people to give voice and share their own stories.

The programme is enabled by a network of storytellers and activists in communities across Scotland, and by the Festival’s guest artists who travel out of Edinburgh to meet and support local groups.

Thirdly, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is commissioning ten Creative Place projects, allowing storytellers to engage with new themes and audiences. Amongst these is a community heritage project in The Cabrach in Moray, one of Scotland’s most de-populated rural areas. This will support storyteller Jackie Ross from Lumphanan to collect and weave local stories in Scots, and to help articulate The Cabrach story, past, present and future.

In Edinburgh, by contrast, storytellers Fergus McNicol and Ron Fairweather (known as Mak-a-Story) and Jane Mather are working in the extended urban areas of Lochend, Craigentinny and Restalrig to unearth forgotten stories, songs and street rhymes. The area has rich heritage and culture ripe for revival and celebration.

Donald Smith, Scottish International Storytelling Festival Director, said: ‘This new funding is a huge boost for the Storytelling Festival. We are already indebted to the Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund, Creative Scotland and Edinburgh City Council, but with PLACE we can go further and deeper. We hope very much that we will be able to build on this over the next two years.’

Ruth Kirkpatrick, chair of the Scottish Storytelling Forum, added: ‘‘This year’s local events have been snapped up. There is a hunger for the kind of community belonging, and the hospitality that traditional storytelling fosters.’

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