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Posted on: Monday - Apr 27, 2015

Stories matter. They matter a lot. They can make us laugh and cry. They can educate us, persuade us and entertain us. They can bring us together and create shared experiences, like scattered pieces of cloth stitched together to craft a beautiful quilt.

Tennessee is home to a special place that is truly changing the world. It is creating jobs, driving year round tourism and making a major economic impact by harnessing the simple, yet transformative power of the spoken word.

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) brings national and international attention to Tennessee and to our state’s oldest town, Jonesborough, whose population swells from about 6,000 people to twice its size at the National Storytelling Festival. The festival draws thousands of visitors from all 50 U.S. states and several continents, becoming a truly unique event, celebrating storytelling and the spoken word.

“I hold a strong belief that through a well-told story we can communicate truth, concept, or ideas with immeasurable power,” Kiran Singh Sirah, President of the International Storytelling Center, said. “ISC is dedicated to connecting this powerful tool with the voices of individuals, organizations, and communities across the world. And, through story help them achieve their goals and contribute to building a better world for generations to come.”

Through more than four decades of storytelling, the ISC has had an untold economic impact on Jonesborough and our entire state, elevating the art of storytelling to communities across the nation and the world.

The results of a recent economic impact study show the ISC generated $7 million for the community and state and created 111 jobs. Singh Sirah added, “Through our May to December seasonal and flagship public programs we host around 26,000 visitors each year, over 300 hours of live storytelling, and reach thousands of lives in unique diverse storytelling partnerships with our friends.”

In keeping with its mission to improve peoples’ lives around the world through the power of storytelling, the ISC has formed key partnerships and collaborations with influential institutions like the Smithsonian Institute, Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, NASA, United Way, Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation-USA, Alliance for Peacebuilding, The United Nations, Dollywood, Harvard and East Tennesse State University, Google and many more.

The new digital partnership with Google’s Cultural Institute, a free online exhibition that explores the stories behind history’s most important historic and cultural moments, focuses on the 42 year cultural impact of ISC’s signature event, the National Storytelling Festival, which is the largest and most prestigious storytelling event in the world.

ISC joins the likes of the White House, the British Museum, and hundreds of cultural institutions that Google has partnered with across the globe to make institutions with historic moments and other international treasures universally accessible to online visitors. The project has around 8 million social media followers and is a platform designed to make world cultures accessible to anyone, anywhere.

This year’s National Storytelling Festival is October 2-4 in Jonesborough. For more information on featured storytellers, tickets and accommodations, visit http://www.storytellingcenter.net/festival/.