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Success Stories in Building Adult Audiences

by Kate Dudding (kate@katedudding.com)

At the National Storytelling Network's 2003 Conference in Chicago, I moderated a panel discussion on this topic. Other panel members were Gerald Fierst, Ellen Munds and Robert Revere. Based on the panelists' presentations and information shared by attendees, there seems to be three things in common with all successful storytelling events for adults:

  • The venue must fit the audience, i.e. be a place that type of adult normally goes. For example, an adult event at a children's museum drew a small audience; a storyteller dinner series at a restaurant draws the same older middle-class audience that normally eats in the restaurant; a night club for the 20-30 crowd draws that same age group to a Story Slam.

  • Collaboration with other, non storytelling groups draws new people, people from the non storytelling groups, to the storytelling event.

  • A time for socialization, perhaps including food and alcohol, makes the event more enjoyable for all attending as well as more acceptable for those who are skeptical about storytelling.

    Below are brief descriptions of successful adult storytelling event across the country. Also see the separate articles: House Concerts in Kansas, Poems, Pints, and More! and Short Subjects .


    Producer: Kate Dudding
    Location: Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY
    Web site: www.timesunion.com/communities/storycircle


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    mostly middle-aged or senior citizens, but some young adults are coming to Tellabration now that it’s in a theater in Albany.

    Keys to success:


    Producer: Gerald Fierst
    Location: MidAtlantic States
    Web site: www.geraldfierst.com


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    mostly middle aged attendees

    Keys to success:


    Producer: Ellen Munds, Storytelling Arts of Indiana
    Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
    Web site: www.storytellingarts.org


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:
    Storyteller’s Theater for Adults includes the Storytelling Series, Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories and The Frank Basile Emerging Stories fellowship and Premiere. The Storytelling Series began in 1991 and the other two programs have followed. The majority of our programs are now presented at the Indiana Historical Society in downtown Indianapolis.

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    Individuals attending these programs range in age from 30’s – 70’s.

    Keys to success:

  • Willingness to continue to change and try new formats, ideas etc until we get the right combination.
  • Collaborating with as many different organizations as possible (marketing and programming):
  • The make-up of the board of Storytelling Arts of Indiana consists of members from the corporate and not-for-profit community to assist with developing and implementing marketing and fundraising plans.


    Producer: Robert Revere, previously associated with the Washington Storytellers Theatre
    Location: Washington DC metropolitan area
    Web site: www.washingtonstorytellers.org


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    All. Demographics have been slowly changing. Concerts have attracted mostly seniors, and are now a mix of senior citizens, middle-aged adults, and younger adults. Speak Easys were designed to attract young adults in their 20s and 30s and have actually brought adults in their 30s through 50s (and older).

    Keys to success:


    Producer: Houston Storytellers Guild (Sally Goodroe)
    Location: Houston, TX
    Web site: www.houstonstorytellers.org


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    middle-aged adults and senior citizens

    Keys to success:


    Producer: King County Library System
    Location: King County, WA
    Web site: wwww.kcls.org/storyfest/


    Types of events for adults and how long they've been going on:

    Attendance (young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens):
    Thousands.

    Keys to success:


    Author's Bio:

    Kate Dudding (www.katedudding.com) is enjoying her 7th year as a professional storyteller. She enjoys creating and telling stories set in history, personal stories and interactive stories.

    Kate is active in the US storytelling community. She is a member of the National Storytelling Network, the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling and Story Circle of the Capital District. She is also a member of the program committee for the Second Annual Riverway Storytelling Festival and a co-founder of the Hudson Valley Storytelling Alliance.

    Kate Dudding

    3/5/04

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