HISTORY OF NSN
State Liaisons sometimes need to help members understand why NSN is no longer associated with the International Storytelling Center (ISC) in Jonesborough TN, and why NSN has no involvement with the ISC’s October festival.
The National Storytelling Network and the International Storytelling Center are two separate organizations that used to co-own the National Storytelling Festival. Now all festival programming decisions are made by ISC.
(Note: Yet another separate entity is The Woodneath Library Story Center in Kansas City.)
Our official organizational history explains how NAPPS evolved into NSA (1992) and then NSN (1999).
However, as a State Liaison you should know the rest of the story:
In 1998, prior to our membership vote to separate from ISC, then-president of NSA Margaret Read MacDonald wrote in our newsletterYarnspinner:
“Re: NSA BREAKUP by Margaret Read MacDonald
“NSA is in the process of dividing into two entities. This division is necessary because of the different needs of the two halves of this organization. The Storytellling Center in Jonesborough is concerned with bringing visitors to that region. The Storytellling Center has applied for several grants from Tennessee agencies and received them. It has purchased several pieces of property in downtown Jonesborough to use in Center Develpment. All of those needs tend to take resources away from the membership’s own needs.
“By forming a separate membership entity we will be able to direct all of our membership dollars to our own needs. Also a board can be elected directly by the membership, which will be able to control entirely our own fate. In the past the NSA Board has not actually been able to control the organization because our director’s will was strong enough to override the Board in many cases. Once the NSA Board had returned to their various homes, the NSA staff more or less ran the organization as they felt best.
“It is true that the new organization will be much poorer than the combined organization at first. But we also will no longer be subject to the enormous amount of debt which the Center has taken on.”
Then-Executive Director Jimmie Neil Smith had incorporated the Jonesborough TN festival under NAPPS’ 501(c)3 to avoid paying taxes on festival income. As a condition of the separation, NSA/NSN and ISC agreed on a 1999 contract which granted NSA 18% of gross festival receipts. However, in 2010 when ISC declared bankruptcy due to its debts, TN courts agreed to void the contract, leaving NSA/NSN in financial straits.