Storytelling school

Children’s Museum Tucson launches storytelling program | Currents function

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(Tucson Children’s Museum/Submitted)

Children play with drums in the courtyard of the Children’s Museum Tucson during Art After Dark on the second Saturday, September 10. The non-profit Japanese ensemble drum group Odaiko Sonora provided fun activities for children and their families.

The Children’s Museum Tucson will launch its new storytelling program, Cuentacuentos, on Saturday, October 8, as part of its Art After Dark program, a monthly collaboration between local arts partners and nonprofit organizations.

CMT executive director Hilary Van Alsburg said the museum received a project grant from Arizona Humanities in August to bring in multicultural storytellers as an ancillary initiative to support Art After Dark’s arts programming.

Arizona Humanities is a statewide nonprofit organization that supports public programs to “promote understanding of the human experience with cultural, educational, and nonprofit programs throughout Arizona.”

“There is such a rich and vibrant storytelling community in Tucson,” Van Alsburg said. “Being able to bring in people who are knowledgeable in this area and showcase different cultures for the audiences we serve is such a great benefit.”

Cuentacuentos is a partnership between CMT and the Department of Humanities and African Studies at the University of Arizona. Dr Praise Zenenga, Director of Africana Studies, will be the first featured storyteller to share oral histories from Africa, including a West African folk tale about “Anansi the Spider”.

“There will be a lot of participation in terms of calls and answers and questions being asked back and forth, wanting [the kids] to predict outcomes,” Zenenga said.

The stories will have a moral and cover a variety of delivery methods, including digital storytelling and performance storytelling. The department invites faculty and graduate and undergraduate students to participate in the program.

Zenenga, who is responsible for finding other storytellers throughout the university, said storytellers will come from programs such as the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures (SILLC), area studies programs such as the East Asian German, Russian and Slavic, Judaic, Latin America and the Middle East.

“We decided that these regional studies within the university can bring us stories of diversity, inclusion and equity from different parts of the world so that these children know that a difference is something that must be celebrated and not despised,” Zenenga said.

With a theme of acceptance, Cuentacuentos reaches out to children from marginalized communities to prepare future leaders for critical thinking, decision-making, fairness and acceptance, Zenenga said.

The Cuentacuentos program is expected to continue until spring. CMT’s free Art After Dark program runs year-round, every second Saturday of the month, with the goal of increasing accessibility to the arts for historically underserved and marginalized communities.

Accounts to Art after dark, supported by AZ Humanities

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the second Saturday of each month until spring

WHERE: Tucson Children’s Museum, 200 S. Sixth Avenue, Tucson

COST: Free