We are all drawn to the big blockbuster movies, stage shows and travelling exhibits, to our disadvantage. In the process of funding big productions, local stories and storytellers never see the light of day. And it’s the local stories that really matter. It’s the local storytellers that define our culture in the here and now, that give us belonging, empathy and allow us to really see the world through a different lens. It is through stories that we open our eyes to the world and make change.
This is why we have set up Story City so that we only work with local writers, artists and musicians in the towns and cities where we run our projects. We are a social enterprise, and believe every city is full of stories that are worthy of a local and international audience and that there needs to be a platform for those stories to be heard. We have started to create that platform in Story City. Whether they are choose your adventures, puzzle trails, indigenous myths or historical tales, the stories are written, scored & illustrated by local artists who know their city best.
We engage the local community with every Story City arts project. We do this by running an open Expressions of Interest process, inviting applications from the community to create the stories for the area. From these community applications we invite 30 artists to attend a workshop aimed at fostering creative networks and training the writers, artists and musicians in creating digital art projects. These workshops act as a ripple effect for the artists who go onto create their own innovative projects, keeping the local talent and projects in that region’s backyard.
To date we have trained 250+ writers, artists and musicians from 4 communities (Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast), and have employed 50 local writers, artists and musicians in those communities. In addition, from those workshops 4 different projects have been developed (and funded) by artists who met and were trained in our workshops. From interactive exhibits, to ANZAC stories, to choose your own theatre projects.
From these projects, run over the past 5 years, 37 stories have been created and are completely free for the public to access. The app engages thousands of locals and visitors every month with public spaces using technology that youth are addicted to. The stories created for each project are available for free, 24/7 for 2 years making it one of the most freely accessible, long running, low cost events that also pays local artists for their work. Also, by being free for the licensing period, it allows the greatest exposure to local artists, and provides locals, youth and tourists with exposure to local stories, talent, and culture.
While Story City is an innovative digital platform, it is also an innovative model in how it supports emerging local artists. While the number has been dwindling in recent years, a lot of money still gets funnelled into the arts, and much of it goes to local artists. But unfortunately many of those local projects fall flat, because the local artist doesn’t have the know-how and experience to pull it off or spread the word.
They are good at being artists but don’t know how to leverage or market their skill. This is the advantage of our projects, paying the storytellers is only part of what we do. In our model, the artists learn by doing. The commercial benefit is beyond one of monetary payment, they get given extensive assistance and guidance that teaches then how to make a viable future for themselves.
We are constantly working to increase our social impact and are currently seeking to connect not only with more local artist in communities, but with indigenous communities, youth and multi-cultural communities. We hope in the future to produce location based educational programs, science information walks, myths and more, becoming the world’s repository for stories.