Sunday, June 30, 2013

Federation for European Storytelling Conference (FEST) Rome 2013

Jackie Kerin sharing the Roman experience.

With the support of storytelling colleagues, friends, my Folk Club and Hobsons Bay Council, I represented Storytelling Australia (Victoria) at the Federation for European Storytelling Conference. Following the Conference was the Rome International Storytelling Festival.

The idea for a European Federation for European Storytelling was first mooted in 2001, in Paris at the Maison du Conte in response to the challenge faced by storytellers to be recognized for their art. Behind the Federation is the idea that as a group, storytellers would have more ‘weight’ as well as providing a network for building expertise, collaborations, and the development of new storytellers.

FEST is a not for profit organization with its address in Belgium.

To be a member you have to be based in Europe. Members include: storytellers, producers and festival directors. Non members are welcome.

Since its formation, FEST has met in Oslo (Norway), Lausanne (Switzerland), Reading (England) and Toledo (Spain).

This year, FEST attracted 90 delegates. The non member guests included, Canada, Pakistan, the USA, Singapore and Australia.

The conference is a mix of discussions and idea sharing: training young storytellers, audience development, putting storytelling on the cultural map.

Many discussions were parallel to those we have in Australia eg, agreement of the function and design of a website, cultural appropriation, encouraging young tellers etc

The big difference between Australian and European storytelling, as I saw it, is the separation of storytelling as art, from storytelling as a ‘tool’ to educate, heal etc. Many of the storytellers are deeply connected to their oral traditions and focus on the folk tales from their place. I perceived less interest in original stories and autobiographical storytelling.

The next FEST Conference will take place in 2014 in the north of Sweden and should we wish to send another Australian we will need time to fundraise and apply for grants to get them there. FEST was exhilarating and exhausting. I learned much and am keen to share my experience.

I met several old friends of Australian storytellers and compiled this little film for you all.

I have also created this video of the Conference. Its a little rough (my first attempt at such a thing) but I thought it was a better way of sharing the experience with you, rather than a long email.


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  2. Nice video clips, Jackie! Especially the impression of the FEST conference. Although Storytelling Australia can't become a FEST member, since you are not a European association, but you are clearly involved in this network! Hopefully you can stay in touch with FEST.

    All the best,

    Gottfrid van Eck
    Storytelling Foundation The Netherlands

  3. Thanks so much Jackie. That was very generous to create a record for all those of us who could not attend and give a sense of the strong energy in European storytelling!