Storytelling: Developing a county-wide Festival

Introduction

‘A little magic can take you a long way’ – said our famous past storytelling resident, Roald Dahl.

In 2022/3 (tbc) Buckinghamshire Culture aims to create magic for our residents through a county-wide Storytelling Festival that offers opportunities to experience and participate in storytelling; firing imaginations and creativity through immersive and engaging events and activities.  This Festival will go beyond the traditional literary festival, bringing together a diverse mix of participatory, immersive and experimental activity and events.  We want to embrace a broad range of arts, music and performance, as well as exploring gaming and technology as ways to unlock creativity and tell stories. 

This is a big idea and a big project, and to do it well, we need to spend some time researching and testing out what works, and building an exciting and inclusive vision and programme for the flagship Festival.  Over the next two years, we want to develop the concept of the Storytelling Festival through creative and cultural activities that uncover hidden stories; delivering engaging, participatory and fun creative activity with, and for, our communities. 

We are currently developing and raising funds for Storytelling activity that we can deliver safely in 2021.

Strategic Context

The Storytelling Festival context directly supports the new Buckinghamshire Cultural Strategy, contributing the strategic outcomes of: ‘equality of access to cultural activities and opportunities’, ‘improved health and wellbeing of our population’ and ‘re-vitalised heritage and transformed places.’ 

Our key partner, Buckinghamshire Council, is extremely supportive of this project and working closely with us to shape and build the concept and research and development phase.  This work supports plans for the county’s recovery from Covid-19 – enhancing wellbeing, quality of life and public realm agendas, as well as providing something fun and positive after a very difficult period. 

It is hoped that the festival will both help build, and become part of, the Buckinghamshire DNA and identity, hopefully becoming a biennial festival.  Activity will be programmed across Buckinghamshire, making use of our market towns, villages – encouraging people to return to high streets and centres and increasing dwell time.  Additionally, we will work with our partners in tourism to ensure that we maximise potential for the visitor economy during the Festival period. 

A key theme of this work is around identity and place-making and through sharing, telling and taking part in storytelling, we aim to tell the story for Buckinghamshire and its people.