Presented by – Joe Lambert, Director, the Center for Digital Storytelling Bruce France, Co-Founder, Mondo Bizzaro
Before you read any further, call this phone number: (504) 256-1116. When prompted, choose and dial any number between 01-20. Now listen….
What you are experiencing is I-Witness Central City, a storymapping project in New Orleans. This is a community-based storytelling project on steroids! Goodbye stages, microphones, metal folding chairs, and Kinko’s copies….Hello 21st century!
Essentially, “storymapping” is a method of reclaiming the dialogue and character of individuals and a community. The presenters use modern, readily available technologies, to create a map of stories in cities around the world. Usually these cities or town have a dramatic, traumatic, or interesting story to tell, stories that speak to a forgotten time or place, stories that have been embellished or changed over time, or stories that are happening at the moment. Individuals who participate are asked to tell a story, any story of a place – they are not interviewed. The stories are recorded and/or videotaped, edited and uploaded, and then the people (encouraged by signs placed in the locations of each of the stories) call a phone number and hear the story. The program is supplemented by a website with video of some of the individuals telling their stories at the locations they are talking about. The Center of Digital Storytelling has worked with organizations and individuals in 16 cities, all over the world. Generally, each project is promoted signs, indicating which locations are represented in the project, local press and word of mouth. Some projects and their supporting organizations also host receptions and/or musical or theater performances based on the project. The technology and stories are approachable and storymapping is a community arts project any organization (willing to commit the manpower and funds) can accomplish.
Here are some of the questions participants asked after the presentation: (the answer is listed in italics)
1. Who holds the copyright for each individual story and the project as a whole? The teller always owns the story. In the future, The Center for Digital Storytelling would like to create a digital archive for the stories told in projects they work on. After 75 years, as defined by current copyright laws, the archive would be public with no restrictions or liabilities. 2. How do you find stories? Word of mouth! Once somebody tells their story, they often say we should speak to so-and-so –that is how we find most of our stories. 3. Where does the funding for these projects come from? The money comes from a variety of places including grants, community or regional philanthropic organizations, local arts councils, and/or state government. Both the Center for Digital Storytelling and Mondo Bizarro hold workshops to train staff at collaborating organizations in media use, film/sound editing and marketing techniques. 4. What technology is used for these projects? For video projects, everything from PowerPoint to iMovie can be used. There are hundreds of options for video and sound programs – you just have to do a little research. A good place to start is the NYU ITP Phonebank – the students and faculty in this program are doing innovative things – one student is working on a program that lets your plants call you when they need to be watered! (AWESOME!)
Fun Fact: 1200 artists, arts educators and arts administrators are attending the convention.
The general session was a wonderful mix of networking and time to reflect on the current state of the arts. I was seated between an architect from New York City who specializes in public art projects and city/organizational collaboration and the ED of an arts council in Tennessee. Bill Ivey, the guest speaker and advisor to the Obama campaign, spoke passionately about how to move forward in a new administration. He encouraged everybody to walk away and do the following: 1. Trust in your national leadership – even if it may not work as quickly as you would like, he knows first-hand how important the arts are to our new administration 2. Work hard to make your leaders follow through with their promises 3. Move from sustaining the arts in a community to the arts sustaining a community.
Lunch ended with the Americans for the Arts Annual Report where Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, highlighted four goals defined in their 3-year (2009-2011) strategic plan: 1. Strengthening informed leaders – from emerging leaders to state and national policy makers 2. Increasing resources and meaningful policies in the arts 3. A better understanding of the broad value of the arts 4. Ensure the organizational stability of Americans for the Arts.
At the general session I had (what I think is) a great idea – let’s put together a resource library for the Emerging Upstate Arts Professionals. The idea came to me while Bill Ivey was discussing and (admittedly) shamelessly, promoting his book, published in 2008, Arts Inc., Let me know what you think – would you use a resource library? What books and/or publications should we include? Does anybody know of any grants or funding opportunities for something like this….for a group that is not a 501c3?
The Newcomer’s Orientation began with a warm welcome to all first-time convention visitors and a brief statement about the history of the annual convention. We were all asked if we like games….I thought, "sure, who doesn’t”. I Love games, especially when prizes are involved, so I joined in the enthusiastic YES. We were then told we would have to count off, one…two…one, two….around each table – this was a little reminiscent of grade school gym class, but I did it and for some strange reason was happy I was a “one” and not a “two”. I guess we all want to be a one, right? We were then told what we were doing – we would be playing a game where you stand in a two circles, face the person directly behind you, introduce yourself and answer a question…the questions ranged from "what are you a veteran of?" to "what would your superpower be if you could be a superhero?" The strange thing was after a few questions (and lots of stepping on other people’s feet when we were instructed to move) I actually understood why we were playing this game. Starting a conversation by introducing yourself to someone is one thing, engaging someone in a conversation is something completely different, especially when that something is something that on the outset seems ridiculous. I met a veteran of “paint,” a grant writer from Alaska who wished she could just appear wherever she wanted to be so she could go to every professional development activity she wanted to and a public art coordinator who I now share a secret handshake with. Reflecting on the game, it seemed ridiculous at the time, but it did facilitate discussion, interesting discussion, and really warmed us all up for the next few days. In the end, we were given this advice: pay attention, listen and get involved in some way.
Well, I am in Seattle (as my earlier post mentioned) and here is blogging plan… I am finding out that only having 30 minute breaks between sessions, I barely have enough time to look at my notes, much less find a hotspot and transfer my barely legible notes to the blog. I am also encountering an internet problem – there is no Wi-Fi in any of the meeting rooms or common areas. Americans for the Arts did set-up a cyber café for participants to check their mail or do other web-based work, but there are 1200 participants here and only 12 computers. Needless to say, my earlier post is about as much info as I could get out without feeling like I wasn’t being fair to the people in line behind me. So my new plan is…take great notes and update the blog at the end of the day, where I will use my $12.95 a day internet connection at the hotel. Separate posts will be labeled by session and will include my notes, sometimes a short reflection and my general impressions of each lecture/conversation. I am also including links to any websites presenters referred participants to, or were mentioned during conversations. As I review my notes and reflect on the convention, I may also update posts or add new ones.
If you have any thoughts or questions, just post them in the comments section to start a dialogue with the group!
I just signed in for the convention - I am looking at four long lines of people waiting to register representing arts organizations from all over the United States and Canada. I have about 15 minutes until the newcomers orientation, so I should go!
As some of you may know, I received an Emerging Leaders Scholarship to attend the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention: Renewable Resources, Arts in Sustainable Communities, in Seattle this year. In an effort to bring valuable information from the convention to local and regional emerging and established arts professionals, I will be updating our blog regularly while I am in Seattle. The updates will include my notes and a reflection on each seminar I plan on attending. I would also like to be YOUR voice at the convention! Do you have questions for any of the speakers and/or presenters? Do you have a topic or question you would like me to present during any of the emerging leaders networking meetings? Let me know! I will post answers to your questions and notes of any discussions for everybody to read on the blog and on our facebook page!
Here are the sessions I plan on attending: you can learn all about the presenters and sessions on the Americans for the Arts website (I posted the link above):
Thursday, June 18 10:30am - 11:15am: Newcomer Orientation 11:30am - 1:30pm: The Sustainability of the Arts Sector, Americans for the Arts Annual Report and Leadership Awards 2:00pm - 3:30pm: Uprooted Memories: Storymapping in Communities 3:30pm - 4:00pm: Networking Break 4:00pm - 5:30pm: The Arts and Sustainability: Building New Bridges by Tracking New Indicators 6:30pm - 9:30pm: Opening Reception: Sightings in Seattle
The Emerging Upstate Arts Professionals was created as an upstate New York chapter of the Emerging Leaders Network, developed by Americans for the Arts. "The Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Program works to identify and cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America. It is an ideal way for new leaders to share their interests with others as they continue to develop their skills and their commitment to the arts."
The Emerging Leader Program targets professionals who are either new to the field, with up to five years of experience, or are 35 years of age or younger.