Letter from the Artistic Director

Storytelling Toronto presents the 40th annual Toronto Storytelling Festival! “Hatched” in 1978 at a cafe in Kensington Market, the Toronto Storytelling Festival first took flight on April 1,1979, and soared into becoming one of the world’s top urban storytelling festivals. We celebrate our 40th year with enormous gratitude and continuing flights of fancy. As always, 1001 heartfelt thanks to our volunteers, tellers, sponsors, partners, and listeners. 

Behind us are the ancestors who gave voice to the stories of the earth, water, fire, and air. The festival continues to honour the storytellers of the First Nations who are keeping their oral traditions alive. Our festival theme this year is “Stories told eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart” (Scottish Traveller proverb). Tradition bearers bring wisdom from the ancestors to illuminate our future, weaving new understandings from the web of old stories. Our beautiful festival image from Luciana Baptista-Cohen’s original watercolour painting portrays the brilliance of these storythreads, the open hands that give and receive them, and the warmth of the global storytelling community we celebrate.

 “There was a belief that the world was one great beating heart; the rivers and waterways its veins and arteries; the oceans the vital organs….”  So begins a story told by Seannachaidh of Glendale Seoras Macpherson. Traditional oral stories are the most authentic source of the holistic worldview that is essential for our future. We know that we are at a tipping point. Sustainability is not enough. What is needed now is radical hospitality, vigilant stewardship, love in action. Stories are powerful tools for change and always have been; they are vital ways of connecting us “heart to heart” with each other and the natural world. They are bright threads of creativity and love to weave into re-imagined ways of being with each other and our Earth.

The “old ways” discovered anew continually bring us back into the present with hope for the future. Welcome. Fàilte. Aanii. Tawow –“there is enough room.” You are part of the re-imagining.

Dawne McFarlane, Artistic Director  

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