Arts Derbyshire


Power of storytelling to highlight urgent themes right now in storytelling and in society. FEST Conference in Glasgow sold out and programme discusses urgent and relevant themes in UK and in Europe.

Power of storytelling to highlight urgent themes right now in storytelling and in society.

FEST Conference in Glasgow sold out and programme discusses urgent and relevant themes in UK and in Europe.

FEST – Federation of European Storytellers is one of the biggest international networks that brings together storytellers and artists from across Europe and internationally once a year to discuss themes and practice. This year the host venue is Glasgow (25-27 June) and the event has sold out. The organisers of this year’s FEST Conference programme has said it wants to discuss themes that feel relevant now in storytelling, an artform steeped in traditional form but how does it address issues and urgent themes now in the UK and across the world.

The 4 organisations representing UK and jointly organising the FEST Conference this year are Village Storytelling Centre (Scotland), Adverse Camber (England), Armstrong Trust (Northern Ireland) and Tamar Eluned Williams (representing a collective of Wales based artists).

“As representatives from each corner of the UK, with our ears to the ground, we invited submissions for the programme from across Europe and received brilliant suggestions.  We’ve included diverse topics and themes that our communities want to know more about and discuss, plus there’s space for new ideas and topics to bubble up during the conference through Open Space events,” said Naomi Wilds, producer and founder of Adverse Camber

Some of this year’s key discussions include gender representation in folklore, diversity in storytelling, digital storytelling and can it work, storytelling and power, innovation, underrepresented voices and languages in storytelling.

The organisers have programmed provocations, talks and workshops around diversity and representation in storytelling and who gets to share their stories and where.  During the Conference there will be sessions on Gender in Storytelling with Hungarian storyteller, Boglárka Klitsie-Szabad leading a session on Women Storytellers, Narratives of Women in the Traditional (rural) Culture and Norway’s Johan Einar Bjerkem will be sharing how they have been analysing gender roles in storytelling and the models they use. Plus Maria Jungas will also share some of her experiences and learnings on working cross artform and courage to break away from traditions.

Representing England at FEST, will be British Indian storyteller Peter Chand and Adverse Camber Engagement Producer Aoife O’Connor, hosting a changemakers conversation with Conversation Agency director Ayisha de Lanerolle entitled ‘Who’s let into the dairy?’ to talk about the importance of widening access, asking which members of society are given spaces to tell their stories.  Also sharing their ideas and experiences will be innovative London based storytellers and producers Story Jam whose ground-breaking Women Who Gave No F*cks tour has supported ensembles of storytellers selling out at venues across the country. They will join Adverse Camber founder producer Naomi Wilds to share experiences of touring and reaching new audiences across England. As delegates from across Europe arrive, Peter Chand will also join storyteller and Associate Professor of Drama at Liverpool Hope University Stephe Harrop to host a late night open floor open mic night in the Terrace Bar of the conference main venue, the CCA on Sauchiehall St, welcoming stories and storytellers.

Irish storyteller, Leanne Bickerdike will deliver a workshop at FEST that explores how Irish folklore and mythology represents the queer and LGBTQIA+ community. The workshop aims to create a safe and inclusive space where people can explore their identities, share their experiences, and learn from one another through the art of storytelling in the Irish tradition.

As the festival has already sold out way in advance this year, the organisers are running two free online FORUM events where storytellers and artists can join and discuss ideas and connect before the conference online. Whether or not they are attending the Conference, everyone is welcome to be part of these online conversations. Storyteller Tamar Eluned Williams and theatre maker Naomi Doyle, supported by Adverse Camber, will lead two online discussions where storytellers and artists can meet, discuss their craft, share skills, and pool resources.

The two free online FORUM events are:

June 10 – 6-7.30pm – Storytelling for Early Years

June 17 – 6-7.30pm – Little Folk and Minority Languages

Spaces are limited.

These online events are supported by Arts Council of Wales.

“Storytelling is about listening and sharing with all generations and perspectives. Our work in Northern Ireland shows how stories help bring people together and promote cultural understanding and we need those skills as much as ever. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to Glasgow and intensifying everyone’s enthusiasm to keep the stories flowing across all our communities,” said Liz Weir MBE, Storyteller in Residence with Libraries Northern Ireland and Armstrong Storytelling Trust.


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