About Syracuse Stories
Syracuse Stage, Fences, photograph by Michael Davis
Syracuse Stories: Mission and Purpose
Stories make us human. Syracuse Stories grounds its mission in that straightforward claim. Its purpose is to encourage and celebrate community-wide cultural practices that reveal just how powerful story-making and telling are. Syracuse Stories affirms the story-telling/narrative dimension of all the arts. Reminds us that story-telling is an aspect of all cultural traditions and is itself an art form. Asserts that stories and the arts are meaning-making processes that tell us, and at times reveal unbidden, who we are as individuals, communities, cultures and collectively who we are as a species. Accepts as a given that stories are the way people locate themselves and their communities in time and space by linking people and cultural communities to specific places and events. And that the repetition of stories creates a continuum of meaning that binds people to their cultures across generations. In short, stories tell us who we are and where we have come from and set the expectations regarding where we are going or can go.
This does not mean that all stories are nice or that every artistic expression is a simple narrative. Some artists eagerly disrupt old stories or try to tell no story at all in the name of a more abstracted sense of the human capacity for beauty. Nonetheless, the story is there even if the art struggles to escape the pull of narrative.
Because stories are so powerful a way to interpret experience and make sense of the world there are inherent dangers in stories. Propaganda is a story. Inflexible ideology is a story. Racism is a story. Yet we can’t live without them. Syracuse Stories is an effort to create a context for story-telling/making that because of its rootedness in the experiences of diverse cultural communities across time and space IN ONE PLACE creates a dynamic multi-day festival of self and community discovery, celebration, critical reflection and joyful shared artistic play. In that spirit here are the goals of Syracuse Stories:
- To tell the stories of the greater Syracuse NY area. To connect over time and space the many communities and cultures who have settled in CNY and created varied forms of cultural expression, contributing to the dynamic, often contested, sometimes conflictual, history of this area.
- To encourage communication between cultural groups to address the things that connect us; the common human desires and hopes that stories reveal. Sharing stories helps us surmount cultural divides.
- To create a new, two-day ritual of inclusive story-telling that builds those bridges across boundaries that divide and helps us, as a community, create a new story worth telling. It might be messy, layered, wise or troubling but because it is far more inclusive, it encourages us to recognize that one group’s progress may be another’s loss and that the stories we have inherited about progress and history can become much more complicated once all characters are present and telling their own stories.
- To support the narrative dimension of all the arts, and to provide space for a broad range of artistic expression.
Syracuse Stories is inspired by FLIP (Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty) It is the annual literary and cultural festival and had its first edition in 2003.
Syracuse Stories: Proliteracy Day of Stories
Volunteer!Email syracusestories [at] gmail.com or call 315/559-7232
Greater Syracuse has been a community traditionally divided across racial, class and ethnic lines. Neighborhoods have been created by an ever-changing cast of cultural groups that have in their effort to protect and support their members and survive as a cultural with a memory, are and have been culturally strong but can also be marginalized. The histories of marginalization, displacement and group conflict are often the very themes of culturally rooted stories.
Stories capture that legacy in the “old country” and help make sense out of new experiences in a new place. Boundaries between cultural communities have also been created by laws and supported by norms that often tell another story — that of “those people”. Further the stories of CNY Native American communities remind us that the history of this region cannot be understood without the oral tradition of story-telling.
Syracuse Stories reaches back and forward in time to tell the stories of all our cultural communities. Syracuse continues to remain a site for refugee resettlement, which creates a dynamic cultural context for the arts as tight new neighborhoods form. Syracuse Stories addresses the tension between the need for a “home” cultural space and the need to come to understand and appreciate other cultural communities and their rich cultural traditions.
Syracuse Stories Sponsor Partners include ProLiteracy, The Gifford Foundation, Le Moyne College (CURAR), the Syracuse University Arts Presenter Office, the CNY Community Foundation, WAER FM, SAY YES to Education Syracuse, Clear Channel Syracuse, the Syracuse International Film Festival, the Everson Museum of Art, the Kauffman Foundation, the Westcott Community Center, the Onondaga Nation and many arts and community groups and organizations.
Syracuse Stories: Share. Understand. Connect
Syracuse Stories is an all-media, participatory arts festival themed around various segments of the Syracuse community sharing their stories of who they are and how they got here. It is scheduled to take place in July 2011. Individuals, programs, organizations, and businesses are all invited to take part by providing an exhibit, performance, or activity that expresses and explores this theme. Syracuse Stories programming will take place at venues in the city. There will be two main all-day events; Wednesday, July 27th in Thornden Park with Say Yes to Education Syracuse and during the Saturday of ArtsWeek, July 30th, at the Everson Museum.
There are many ways of telling a story. For the Syracuse Stories festival, it is important to avoid presenting your culture in a way geared for tourist consumption, or “packaged” to sell to outsiders. Instead, think of it as sharing something important about you with your neighbors, who will also be sharing with you. Your stories need not be happy or beautiful. Show the courage to tell it like it is, and be open to hear others do the same.
If you are interested in being a part of this event but are not sure how, maybe the following ideas will help get your creative thoughts going. In many cases, these are ideas that could be connected to programming to take place over the year leading up to the Stories festival OR after it, with a product to be presented at the next Syracuse Stories Festival in 2012. Many are interactive ideas, which engage the “audience” in active ways.
These are just some possibilities. You do not need to choose something from this list!
- Create an exhibit on the history of your local organization or business, with text and photos. Invite people connected to that history to record their memories about it at the display area.
- Work with a group (of children? youth?) to write and perform a play (puppet show?) about something important to them. Make it participatory, with roles handed out to audience members?
- Collect recipes unique to your cultural community to share in a display with photographs of the food. At the display, assist others to record/write down their own traditional recipes.
- Work with a group (of youth?) to make a video/film about your neighborhood, and screen it for the public at Stories. Then have those who made the video discuss it with the audience.
- Demonstrate an art/music/dance form that is special to your cultural community (and let others try it out?)
- Set up a large paper “wall” with markers, for people to write down thoughts on a chosen theme, such as “what they wish for”, or “what their ideal community would be like” so that others can see and respond to them.
- Collect oral historical accounts on a particular topic from community members and display them. Invite others at Stories to contribute theirs as well.
- Work with others to make a quilt that “tells a story” about your group. Display it and tell about it at Stories.
- Create a display with your vision for a future Syracuse, and invite conversation about it.
- Organize an open-mike poetry, music, comedy, or story-telling session.
- Display/perform your own artwork that synchs with the Stories theme.
- Dress up as a person from Syracuse’s history and mingle with the crowd, staying in character.
- Create and perform a short street theater piece to dramatize an event or issue of local relevance.
- Work with children for them to write stories/draw pictures about their lives and interests.
- Photograph members of your community and record them telling a bit about themselves or their community. Display the photos and recordings together. (get permission!)
Syracuse Stories: Event Schedule
Information:syracusestories [at] gmail.com. 315/559-7232
Events for 2011:
- Monday, 25 July 6:45 PM Syracuse Stories Opening: The Power of Stories Everson Museum of Art. Hosmer Auditorium.
- Syracuse Stories is an All-Arts Festival celebrating and sharing the stories of the people, cultures and institutions that make up our community. Syracuse Stories is honored to have Syracuse University in association with the Congolese Community of Syracuse, Ping Chong and Company and Syracuse Stage Present A Workshop Performance of “Cry for Peace, Voices from the Congo.” written by Ping Chong and Kyle Bass in collaboration with Cyprien Mihigo representing the Congolese Community of Syracuse. Joining us before the performance, ceramicist David MacDonald will do a short demonstration of his work and share his own story. David’s work is inspired by African esthetics and is on exhibit at the Everson until September 18th. We will open Syracuse Stories with a traditional Onondagan Thanksgiving. Free. ASL Interpreters will be provided.
- Wednesday, 27 July 10 AM - Noon Syracuse Stories: Stories From Generation to Generation: Thornden Park.
- During Say Yes to Education Syracuse’s Summer Festival (8:30 AM – 1:30 PM), community artists from a range of cultural traditions will provide children, teachers, parents and community members with story-based arts programming. Free and open to the public.
- Saturday, 30 July 10 AM - 5 PM Syracuse Stories: All Arts Festival ProLiteracy Day of Stories: Everson Museum of Art and Community Plaza.
- Syracuse Stories is a multi-media art and story-telling festival celebrating and sharing the stories of the people, cultures and institutions that make up our community. Please join us in each of our tents, stages and performance areas.
Cultural groups, organizations, community groups and individuals from each quadrant of the City of Syracuse and the Onondaga Nation tell their tales through story-based arts and performance. There will be interactive programming that invites everyone to contribute their story to the history of our community. All events are free. ASL Interpreters will be provided for some events. ProLiteracy is the primary sponsor of the Day of Stories.
- Saturday, 30 July 10 AM - 5 PM Syracuse Stories: All Syracuse Film Fest: Everson Museum of Art, Hosmer Auditorium.
- Films, documentaries and videos by, for and about Syracuseans, Syracuse and CNY. Discussion and stories about the making of the works. Curated and sponsored by the Syracuse International Film Fest and Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. Free.
- Saturday 30 July 10 AM - 5 PM Syracuse Stories: Gifford Foundation Story Corridor Columbus Circle and the Everson Museum of Art.
- Walk the story corridor between Columbus Circle and the Everson Museum of Art. A fun stroll with free activities and entertainment. Walk from other ArtsWeek Festivals and events to Syracuse Stories at the Everson and back. Free and fun.
Syracuse Stories Sponsor Partners include:ProLiteracy, The Gifford Foundation, Le Moyne College (CURAR), the Syracuse University Arts Presenter Office, the CNY Community Foundation, WAER FM, SAY YES to Education Syracuse, Clear Channel Syracuse, the Syracuse International Film Festival, Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Everson Museum of Art, the Kauffman Foundation, the Westcott Community Center, the Onondaga Nation and many arts and community groups and organizations.
For all Syracuse ArtsWeek events and festival including Syracuse Stories, park at SU’s Manley North and take the free Connective Corridor bus downtown to the Everson and other ArtsWeek stops.