the living art of storytelling in Massachusetts

This is a discussion that is key to the survival of all performing art forms.

Here we will address how the web and traditional audience building Techniques can be implemented to grow new listeners out side of the storytelling community.

If you have posted tips and suggestions on other sites please repost them here.

With that said the sequence on some dates may be off but search topics not dates.

Lets see what we can come up with then do so we can all keep doing what we do, do.

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Below is a response to my questions posted from Norah Dooley the Techno Digital Mentor to the masses!
How do we make the turn from promoting to ourselves
(most of my audiences have more storytellers than the general public)
to promoting to the general public!"

What a good question - because it raises several other questions and
and all are of burning importance.

For example:
When and why did we start to only promote to ourselves?
When I started telling in 1991, at the education school where Lee Ellen Marvin taught along
with Jennifer Justice, nearly all students grad and undergrad - knew what storytelling
was and who a handful of storytellers were.
Today it is the exceptional occurrence when I meet a teacher who knows ANYTHING at all about
the world of professional and performing storytellers.
This promoting to ourselves is a critical and central problem and what we have been raising to the board
and members of LANES for the last 3 or 4 years.

How do we get into the public eye and ear? How can we effectively promote to the general public
It is not that folks do not try at all. BUT, if our efforts were working we would not be asking this question.
So, not for me the whiny " But, I sent press releases and notices to all the listings..." I know. we all do and
sometimes you cast your bread on the water all you get back is soggy bread.Gotta start thinking and working in different ways. Here is where digital recording and distribution can REALLY help us.

We need a strong web presence to
1. connect us to each other over distance and time

2. connect us with future practioners of our art

3. connect us to audiences and

4. entice media to carry our message, that storytelling is theater of the mind and the 2nd oldest profession and amazing and cool. And you, John and Suzy Public, need it -you want it! Live!

A goal at massmouth in the coming year is to do some exciting things in new venues
with the public and have radio and print and TV be all over us for the amazing work we do
as we build up a strong audience for - theater of the mind.

Norah I like your tag line "Theater of the mind" for the non story community it best expalins what we are doing.

Entertainers collaborating on Performing Audience initiated Displays
Here is the idea. If an audience member of a particular talent genre such as Storytelling wants to help the environment and reduce their entertainment carbon imprint Eco-Paid would be the answer.

A volunteer host would arrange to have 10-40 guests visit their home to be entertained by a performer that visits from a distance. If only 10 friends visit Portland from rural Maine lets say from 20 miles or more (not uncommon) the carbon impact of fuel is that of one person going 400 miles however if the friends are close to the hosts home than the tellers 20 miles saves on emissions caused by the group and saves the groups wear and tare on vehicle use.

Yes I am aware folks host home concerts but not on the level that I would like to promote. If we could brainstorm how to promote this idea across the nation we could make a difference. If story lovers are encouraged on a local level to produce a show that is initiated by the hosts by visiting a web site and logging on for participating Eco Tellers it could be a positive impact on our environment and on our industry.

Any one who has any comments, suggestions, and experiences on how to start a new trend or how we think about entertainment venues?

Thanks for your time and suggestions
How can we market an idea that would motivate the listener to promote the show they wish to see instead of the presenters and performer?
Eco-PAID could work with established venues as well as home concerts.

If a venue from a local area was contacted by a website because its members which total 2/3 or more of that venue's capcity or more would like to see a on XYorZ and the best dates for that show would be XY or Z don't you think the venue would produce that show?

Dianne has created a great website for all of us Proffessional Storytellers to network. has done the same for Artists and presenters.
What if we created a website with Ning for the audience to connect and network with the performers they could see in a low impact cost effective way?

Enough of my rambling any other ideas out there?
Tim E on July 8, 2008 at 1:15pm
there is a website out there, The Point, that allows people to pledge in advance for specific happenings. So far, it's mostly used as an organizing and fundraising tool.

I learned about it from Andrew Taylor's always insightful blog about the intersection of arts and business, The Artful Manager.

Back in April of this year, he noted, following up on an NPR broadcast about The Point, that "The Point seeks to solve a vexing challenge for group action: confirming the critical mass to do something or buy something before you do it or buy it." His insight was to see the application for producers:

Consider this: What if you wanted to bring a professional performing artist to town for a show? A year ago, you'd need a performing arts presenter to find them, contract them, commit to paying them, and then drum up the ticket sales and contributions to make it viable. If the presenter falls short, they eat the difference, and hope that another show earns above its budget. Now consider the entirely different organizing model for touring professional performances offered by The Point. An individual or informal group could propose bringing Ani DiFranco, or Royal Shakespeare Company, or Hubbard Street Dance to town on a certain day in a certain venue, and post the idea as a campaign on-line. Those who would buy a ticket or contribute to the performance could enter their credit card on-line. If enough people signed on with enough money, the contract would close and their cards would be charged. If not, the show wouldn't come.

Poking around on The Point's site, I don't see any producers trying this model yet... but I think the small tipping point required for storytelling house concerts would be an ideal test case!
This is a case where there is an established solution existing to your stated need. All that has to happen is for someone to do it!

I think this is a very interesting listener-centered model of producing. I don't quite understand how it would reduce the carbon footprint of events producing, but I do like the model.

Where I live Tim it is very rural and folks may travel 20 to 50 miles to see a show. If there are others in their community doing the same then it becomes a much larger carbon imprint Event than if a performer traveled to their home, Grange hall, Church or Firestation to do a performance.
Gas guzzleing aside this model will also reduce on paper resources, plublicty trips with posters and tickets because the audience would drive the Event by reqeusting it!
Lots of times we spend great time and energy efforts to fill a venue. Wolud'nt it be great if they contacted us?
The Point may be a start for this.

Thanks Tim for taking part and supporting this discussion
Learnin' Vernon
Tim I like your suggestion of the Point. It is close to what I have in mind.
I used the 20 miles and Portland as an example. I think the focus could be on Audience interest for a show first and foremost. Then match a performer who would travel to a home or venue to meet the expectations of the audience.

This model could be set up to have data entered by artists willing to travel to a cluster concert.
Audience members could input data of their location willingness to travel, host at home and their preferences on entertainment types.

Venues and presenters could input their willingness to have performers of the audience choosing open dates at their venue for shows that would be determined by audience feed back.

I did visit the Point and have an experiment there to see how a campain works.
I am using my daughters house in a rural area wish me luck.
Learnin' Vernon
Our dilemma is if we want to have people know what we do, where we do it, and how we do it, we will have to have places to communicate with them.
Not just in schools, museums, and librarys but also in Parks, Bars, Stores, and in the streets!

If the public does not seem to come to us than we need to go to them in their homes and at their work breaks with audio, video, photos and chat.

Some of us may choose to take a risk with our privacy in an open public forum.
We do this so we may perform in a more secure public forum with our audiences and make a difference in their lives.

This discussion and all our web sites that have been mentioned are great tools.
I will use every tool available to futher my self and my passions which include the Storytelling Community.

But please do not misunderstand my priorities!

For our art form I believe what has been and always will be the best marketing tool is this:

After a show pressing the flesh in a hug or firm hand shake as I look a listener in the eye and with all sincerity say.

" Thanks for coming I appreciate your support. We hope to see you at our next event!"

All of these high techy tools are to help me get people there so I can thank them for enjoying my show.
And that my friends is what it is all about.

So if you can go high tech do it.

If for some reason, time or just no intrest do not . It is after all each persons choice.

Thanks for keeping the flames burning bright regardless of how you fuel the fire.

Learnin Vernon

Hope to see you around the fire

To Entertain and Enlighten

Story Teller

Vernon L. Cox

(207) 899-9299

Home of Learnin Vernon and Willey Phinedit
Amen Bro' Vernon! - Al this noise we are making is about connecting via the web to connect in the flesh. I have some great studies and papers on audience building from arts groups with big bucks who paid national level think tanks to analyze the situation for them. Let me know if you are interested in them? I posted on the list ages ago but should put 'em ads pdfs somewhere centrally located. Any thoughts on how and where? This little Upload Files in left corner ? Is that where I can put 'em? Who - I think I will try... Attaching two pdfs right here
It worked! Yay. Now if only I could type and post without hundreds of errors.
Bold your subjects & PDF files welcome

Yeah me too I mean well but my typing and grammer are awful.

Note Norah and all others if this discussion place works lets refer to it here and use bold headers for quick searching later.

PDFs and JPEGS viedo all are welcome here.
Folks can scan and pass what they dont want and read what the do.
Norah Dooley said:
It worked! Yay. Now if only I could type and post without hundreds of errors.
Tips on Keywords, tags and titles

Met with a web marketing specialist and she suggested:

Use words your target search group may use not what you would like folks to use

Performer, entertainer, live performer, live event, show, inside activitys, outside activitys, humor, drama, spoken word, theater, storyteller, story performer.

Notice what we call ourselves is at the end. vWe should include it but use the searchers words first until; they become story savvy we all need to be searcher savvy and give them what they are lloking for.

in addtion add words like organization, group etc when talking about your guild in titles using url when appropriate. Story place or venue are ok but along with their words location, place, conert hall and Theater.

Ask your audiences what it sis they search for when they want live storytelling entertainment. Use those words and tell others so we can to.

Do not forget this is for your titles and tags as well as keywords. Also for videos and photos not just web pages. Web crawlers will find these words and move you up in the search lists.

Good luck, great fourtune to you, pleasant findings, joyous jubliant results!!!

Learnin' Vernon
Historical Venues for MASSMOUTH Storytelling!

Andrea although I do some historical pieces it is not my specialty. I would love to help out with an event and Columbus Day weekend would be good for the Plymouth area since I will be there any way.
However mention it at your meeting and see if Merril, Kate Carney, Leeny Del Seamonds, Jan Turnquist and the gifted Onawumi Jean Moss might be interested in featuring.

If we can promote our Talented historical tellers and create a media buzz for the show then they in turn will have a platform to promote all your regular venues and other Massmouth tellers.

We will promote ourseslves by promoting others!
A rising tide will raise all ships.
Let me know how I can help?
Learnin’ Vernon
Audience building Videos What is Storytelling?

Watch Intro to storytelling and share your thoughts.
This was created for family audiences to set the tone of my shows.
It tells the family what to expect of me and what I expect of them.

Could there be an adult version, poem or tale that we could share to entertain and educate audiences on what it is we do?

If we could think of somthing and all use it, we could spread the word consitantly to Joe/Jane public where they listen and how they listen.

What ever it is it should apeal to adults, be proffesional as well as inviting.

What ya all think?
Learnin' Vernon

Well done MASSMOUTH!!
The folks that attended last nights MASSMOUTH Story Slam at Kennedy's Midtown in Boston received a cornucopia of dinning disaster stories, story improv and story one liners.

Story comedian Jess Sutich along with author and accomplished storyteller Norah Dooley provided the spices between judging and tellers to keep the evening flavorful.
We heard improvised non-judged stories from Carol and Vernon, these one minute tales from index cards were a way to tell for those who did not get chosen. 10 open mic slots do not begin to tap the talent or enthusiasm in the room.

2 of the 9 judges performed mini features and that alone was worth the cost of admission. Judith I never had a meaningful relationship with my food but I will now and Kevin I am buying a smaller tomato paste spatula.

All 10 performers did well to stay on theme however a few went over on time costing them some points. The stories were as varied as the audience and all t-shirt worthy for sure.
I will not review their stories here because if I know Norah, Andrea and Doria they will have some of them up in video form within the week and you can see them yourself.
Of course there is nothing like a live show so please join them if you can.

Thanks to all who volunteered to judge, take tickets, host, tell, and listen to this months Story Slam!

What is the price one would pay for such a feast of talent?
My journey from Portland Maine began with a 2 hour bus ride a short T ride and a 5 min walk. The salmon and the beer at Kennedy's Midtown was only surpassed by the room of story buddies who I seldom get to see in person.
the time I got home was 1230 and 430 I was up to start my day anew.
My adventure was well worth the time and cost to attend and I urge you to RSVP next time you get invited.
Better yet dont wait for the invite visit
Check the [will attend] box and be there on the 14th of Dec.

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Grand Prize for South Shore Grand Slam Story Slam generously donated by Nicolette Heavey and Stories In The Streets (A Maine Get Away)

Stories in the Streets in an outreach literacy program that focuses on families in at-risk areas and fosters community engagement in storytelling by: 1) Creating opportunities for public storytelling wherever families gather — a farmer’s market, laundromat, or food line; and, 2) Offering storytelling workshops that raise family engagement in literacy, cultural awareness and community understanding.  The program is currently active in Lawrence, Brockton and Randolph.


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