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NEWS FLASH

How did it go?

In the immediate aftermath of the Celebration of Tales, we were asked repeatedly, “How did it go?”  We write both to reflect on the many successes of the day and to express our deep gratitude for your support.  The trust you placed in us means the world as we work together to grow a more diverse and inclusive community in the Charlottesville area, and we hope you agree that your trust was amply rewarded!  One moment when we felt validated was when one of our headliner storytellers, Sheila Arnold, commented as she was closing her last set of the day that this was the most diverse and inclusive audience that she had ever seen at a storytelling festival. Since Sheila is a professional storyteller of the highest caliber who has been telling tales on stages all over the country for decades, this was especially meaningful since this was one of our most ambitious hopes!  Her kind words were one of many aspects of the Celebration that exceeded our expectations.  We’d like to name just a few others:
 

  • The warmth and enthusiasm of the audience.  We’d set our expectations that this was the most important single indicator of success, and still the joy and appreciation that the audience expressed was far above what we’d hoped for.  There were numerous standing ovations as storytellers presented. And as folks left, they frequently sought out one of the volunteers to express gratitude, wonder, and delighted requests for more!

  • The warmth and enthusiasm of the Tellers.  We immediately asked the tellers for feedback.  They were so appreciative of the day, the space The Center provided, and the warmth of the audience that they offered to help us in many impressive ways to build on our second annual event.

  • The diversity of the Tellers.  We were proud of the ways that the tellers represented the kind of inclusive and diverse community that storytelling can build.  The array of storytellers, including three African American tellers, an indigenous Mayan teller from Guatemala and a local Jewish teller made clear that a general audience can come together to hear and be moved by these rich and powerful stories.

  • ASL Interpreters rocked.  Several members of the audience commented on how much the ASL interpreters, Tess and Lettie, added to the day.  By making the stories accessible to everyone, they embodied our intention to grow a community where everyone is included and everyone's gifts are truly welcome.  And in addition, even audience members who did not understand Sign deepened their engagement and enjoyment of the stories through the power of Tess’ and Lettie’s work.

  • Volunteers galore. One important reason that the day went so smoothly was the number of hard-working volunteers who continually leant their hands and abundant good will.  One pleasant surprise was the school-age children (from 8 to 13 years) who played vital roles–especially Liam Gulotta and Kamina Mentor who controlled the sound and lights for most of the day!

  • Attendance!  We had cautioned ourselves not to measure our success in the number of people who showed up.  We were strongly advised by seasoned pros who had launched other storytelling festivals that the first year of a such an effort never gets significant numbers of attendees; ”expect less than 50” was their mantra.  Imagine our surprise when we exceeded that number all day long.  There were frequently more than 100 in the audience, with many staying for the entire day!

  • Positive Feedback on the Anonymous Survey.  We decided to keep the Audience Survey anonymous to encourage candid feedback.  The feedback was candid, alright, and overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  We feel very encouraged, indeed!  

  • The encouragement of so many of you to do this again! Encouragement came not only from the audience. The tellers were upbeat, cheering us on to do this again.  And not only is the working group already planning for next year, but our volunteers are ready to support our efforts.

 

Thank you for your support!

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