Two World leading Welsh and Canadian storytelling festivals partner on exploring new digital engagement for their 2021 events

Two of the world’s leading storytelling festivals, Beyond the Border: Wales’ International Storytelling Festival in Wales, UK, and Festival Interculturel du conte de Montréal in Canada have secured funding to continue to explore and collaborate to create digital being offered by their events this year.

In 2020, both festivals explored new innovative and engaging ways of creating events and activities online including mini festivals, conversations with artists, webinars and workshops as well as exploring the use of digital activities at their festival sites to deliver new ways of storytelling to audiences.

Both festivals are due to present major international events this year featuring international artists at Beyond the Border 2-4 July 2021 and Festival Interculturel du conte de Montréal – a 10 day event in October 2021. With uncertainties around the viability of international travel, and increasing commitments towards environmental sustainability, both festivals are planning to present both a live and digital programme. With funding from the British Council and Wales Arts International, both festivals will be able to keep pushing and reinventing how storytelling is experienced through digital platforms, finding new ways to bring artists, stories and audiences together.

Artistic Director Naomi Wilds said, “In the last 12 months we’ve explored new and innovative ways of storytelling and we want to keep pushing those ideas further, to create digital experiences which play to storytelling’s strengths, and reveal new insights into artists’ work and craft. We want to make full, inventive use of the range of digital tools and platforms available to us. Both festivals are keen to foster sensory-rich exchanges which immerse us in the world view of an artist or cultures of performance storytelling.”

“Collaboration between festivals helps us achieve more than we can on our own. Both festivals blend a rich array of home-grown talent with international guests and ensembles. Both festivals are also artistically adventurous, taking the pulse of the international storytelling movement and gaining inspiration through new practices and ideas.”

Beyond the Border has been successful in gaining funding from Wales Arts International, British Council along with support from the ‘New Conversations’ a joint British Council, Farnham Maltings, High Commission of Canada in the UK and Canada Council for the Arts fund. This funding will allow for a small-scale test of new ways of involving three acclaimed Canadian artists working with technicians in Wales to be part of Beyond the Border’s digital programme for the 2021 festival. The artists include Ivan Coyote who is an award-winning author and storyteller from the Yukon, who will be at their cabin in the Yukon pine forest in July 2021.

Marta Singh who is based in Ottawa , grew up in an Argentina ruled by the military junta. Her stories, rooted in folktale, often combine elements of memoir with the details of Argentina’s public past. Rather than creating camera-based performances, Marta will be bringing the poetry and emotional intimacy of her storytelling through audio stories embedded in an online version of the festival at Dinefwr.

Musician/storyteller Tamar Ilana draws on her mixed Jewish-Indigenous-Romanian-Scottish descent to create passionate electro acoustic performances of storytelling, music and dance.

Artistic Director at Festival interculturel, Stephanie Beneteau said, “The Festival interculturel du conte de Montréal and Beyond the Border have been collaborating for many years, and I am excited to embark on this new step of our partnership: to support artists in finding new ways to communicate the beauty of our art form digitally. This work must be done by organizations because individual artists cannot be expected to have the resources to adapt to such radical change without support. I am delighted to be working with such an exceptional international partner as well as with three fine Canadian artists to bring their work to new audiences.”

In addition to this focused collaboration with Canadian artists, Beyond the Border are also planning a digital programme filmed around Wales and showcasing its festival home at National Trust Dinefwr, raising the profile of Welsh artists with audiences around the world.

Festival Manager Sandra Bendelow said, “Our digital work to date has revealed the importance of investing in work, partnering with skilled and experienced technicians, to deliver high quality and innovative engagement. We will be investing in Welsh digital creatives (creative technologists, digital stage managers, digital technicians, specialising in delivering across digital platforms, including sound engineering, networking, IT, vision mixing) who will be collaborating with Canadian artists/filmmakers to bring the work into Beyond the Border’s festival platform.”

Beyond the Border’s live and digital programme for the 2021 festival will be announced later in the year before for the festival on 2-4 July 2021.


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