Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling

Taking its name from brimstone, the elusive element medieval chemists believed would transform base metals into gold, this award focuses on the transformational properties of storytelling, and aims to increase understanding of the ways storytelling can promote change in individuals and communities.

The grant supports a model storytelling project that is service-oriented, based in a community or organization, and to some extent replicable in other places and situations. It is our hope that projects receiving this award will have impact beyond their own communities, organizations, or clients, inspiring excellence in applied storytelling work and communicating to new audiences the humanitarian possibilities of storytelling.

Many different sorts of projects can be considered for the award, including community, organizational or institutional programs, curricular activities, short residencies, and projects combining complementary art forms. Projects may involve various kinds of stories, including traditional tales and myths as well as personal and ad hoc narratives. Although oral storytelling should be central to the project, the work need not be conducted by professional storytelling performers. Educators, therapists, naturalists, internal or external organizational practitioners, etc., personnel appropriate to the situation may carry out the project, so long as they can draw on suitable storytelling expertise and experience. We are looking for responsiveness to the standards of good practice in the field of the project.

Note: In keeping with the intent of the Brimstone Award to support innovative, service-oriented projects, the Award will not normally fund honoraria for performances, storytelling festivals, travel, or the purchase of equipment.

Various fields are appropriate for the Brimstone Award, including, for example, health care, environmental education/activism, community development, law, multicultural awareness, organizational development, leadership, intergenerational initiatives, empowerment of the disabled, substance abuse prevention, and educational curriculum at all levels.

Whatever their field or design, proposed projects should be:

  • Service-oriented: aiming to make a positive and lasting impact on some community, organization or group;
  • Innovative in either method or application;
  • Replicable: offering models of design that others can learn from and adapt in new settings;
  • Informed by relevant work in the field: based on knowledge of what has been done elsewhere and on awareness of the broad theoretical framework that underlies the project (expressed in jargon-free discussion that relates ideas in existing literature to the construction of the proposed project);
  • Assessable: designed to include ways of evaluating the effectiveness of the project;
  • Well-documented: planned to culminate in accurate documentation of the process and design, including the difficulties as well as the accomplishments of the project. Different media may be used for documentation and dissemination, so long as the end result is clear, accessible communication.

Please look at previous winners’ projects for some idea of the scope the Brimstone Award Committee is looking for. You will also want to review the rubric and criteria the Committee uses for scoring applications.

Applicants should consider realistically what they can accomplish with the relatively small award of $5000. The award could fund a new project that represents an applicant’s ongoing commitment and expertise in a particular area. However, the award could also be used to enable a project already in motion to come to completion. In other circumstances, it could fund effective documentation and dissemination of a successful project. We encourage collaborative funding; the Brimstone Award might support part of a project that is otherwise sustained by funds from other sources: matching funds, grants and donations, other revenues.

Applicants who are not members of the National Storytelling Network will pay the current membership fee to become an NSN member.

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