Saturday, March 19, 2011

Once upon a HOLNEMVOLT 1.

We did it.
We put an international storytelling festival together.
2 days, 6 tellers, 6 countries. Countless stories.
We did it.
All right, so we just wanted an excuse to bring storytellers here for ourselves.

An enermous amount of work went into the creation of HOLNEMVOLT. Fortunately enough, we had a lot of great people helping us; seven women and one guy worked together for months, taking care of all the details from creating the homepage all the way to making decorations. We all worked with enthusiasm and devotion, and we managed to overcome all the obstacles (such as some people trying to sabotage the festival by organizing a national conference on top of it... well, two, actually, taking our reserved guest rooms etc.) We were all tired and busy and overwhelmed; but no one ever complained.
We were building a new event from below scratch - we did not only have to promote the festival, but promote storytelling itself, since a few people even knew what the word means. So we had to patiently explain over and over and over and over again that Holnemvolt is for grown-ups, and yes, we will have translation, and no, we are not reading from books, and yes, storytelling can be enjoyable for adults, blah blah blah Ginger. Looks like we did a great job; no one showed up with kids expecting a children's festival, so the message went through. Our pr and media expert did a wonderful job promoting the festival; we were in newspapers, in all the radio programs, on tv, everywhere. We had posters and stickers up all over Budapest. We did everything possible to make the festival successful.
Of course there were problems; we had to deal with a lot of things. The timing, for example, proved to be one of the problems: since 15th of March is a national holiday in Hungary, and it was on Tuesday, people had a four-day weekend with amazing weather, so many of them left the city. We also had almost no money for creating the festival, so we had to rely on people's good will and volunteer's help. Fortunately enough, we got great volunteers. We made a few mistakes ourselves out of tiredness or inexperience; but we managed to get everything in place in the end, and made a list of what we will do better next year. For a very first festival we've ever organized, I think Holnemvolt was a pretty decent job.
I hope that one day, years from now, the creation of the festival will become a story in itself. One of the people who came to listen to our tales said "this is the kind of event that years from now when it will be huge an popular, people will be proudly saying 'I was there at the very first one...'". That's what we are aiming for.
Of course, it would not have worked without our wonderful, wonderful tellers. They traveled here on their own money to help us create a storytelling event for this country; they were all great, and kind, and helpful, and very patient with all of us when we were tired and confused. And they brought us amazing stories that made us think: "We HAVE to do this again next year..."

So many things happened in two days, it is hard to remember all of them at once. In the next few posts, I will try to summarize the experience for those who were not there.
Maybe next year :)

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