Arts and Culture

Scottish International Storytelling Festival and #HHA2017

October 19, 2017 by 1 Comment | Category Festivals, Themed Years

Open Word – Open World

Donald Smith, Director at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, blogs about this year’s edition of the Festival and its positive links with 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Storytelling is the art of connection. Though the mind can be persuaded, humans only act when emotion and imagination are engaged.

So while history is our ongoing attempt to understand the past, we also engage with what the past has left us, in the present. And that is the realm of heritage.

I was thinking about that as Fiona Hyslop launched this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival on the Outlook Tower at the top of the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh.

The history of what Patrick Geddes achieved is there to be understood. But before our eyes we could see Edinburgh reaching out to Scotland, and Scotland to the wider world. And all around us Edinburgh’s architecture was climbing skywards, like, to quote MacDiarmid, ‘some mad god’s dream’. Past becomes present and sows the future.

Seventy years ago Edinburgh became a Festival City, in the wake of destructive global conflict, nurtured in Europe. The legacy of those seventy years is that art can still express our hopes for peace, cooperation and invention. So this year’s Storytelling Festival brings together a global storytelling community to celebrate diversity and collaboration. In particular, amidst a panoply of performances, storytellers will take time out to explore how they can express the principles and values of The Earth Charter Initiative.

But what difference can imagination, or even goodwill, make, when we are pointing towards increasing global conflict? The answer is in the question; the opportunity lies in the challenge. We can overcome the challenges by digging deeper into our cultural creativity. What we need is the will, the imagination, and the right stories.

The Storytelling Festival is tapping into one of humanity’s oldest cultural resources, to engage with the present, and contribute to the future.

In the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Scotland is looking to the future, and to a distinctive global role, in which our cultural resources and values are central.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is taking place in Edinburgh from 20 to 31 October: twelve days of storytelling events in Edinburgh and beyond, plus a three day storytelling conference around the themes of the Earth Charter.


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  • Michael Williams says:

    “Storytelling is the art of connection.” All the best, Donald for the best Festival ever. Greetings to all my colleagues from one across the sea.

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