What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
How much do you charge?
It depends on what type of stories you want, whether I have to do special research, how long I am to tell or teach for, how far I have to travel, how large the audience is, what your budget is--many factors determine a fee. I no longer have time to donate my services, preferring instead to donate money to my favorite causes.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have taken numerous workshops at conferences and festivals and subscribe to journals on storytelling. (I've also given workshops and edited and written for those journals!)
How did you get started doing this type of work?
Well, like all of you, I have been a storyteller all my life without realizing it--sharing incidents of my life, jokes, the plots of movies that I enjoyed, etc. But I was lucky enough to see a freelance storyteller and realized that I wanted to learn more. I read every book I could find, attended classes and workshops, helped found a storytelling group and festival, practiced on everyone I met, and finally put out my first business card. That was in 1980, so my adventure has lasted for a long time.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Elementary school assemblies
Private parties for children, families, or adults
Workshops for parents, grandparents, museum docents, clowns, etc.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I am the resident storyteller at the Timken Art Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego, where I perform 9 times a year. Generally I pick a painting, learn and perform the story of the artist's life, and then tell a fairy tale that I feel goes with the picture. Recently I picked a painting of a ship by Thomas Birch, an artist from the early 1800's. When I found out that little is known of his life, but that he painted battle scenes from the War of 1812, I told the story of how the National Anthem came to be written. Even the adults were informed and entertained by the tale!
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Be straightforward about exactly how much money you have to hire a performer. I can't read your mind, and I'd rather work within your budget.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I wish they knew how important it is to provide a quiet space with no distractions for the storytelling. It is hard for one voice, even if it is miked, to compete against a drum troop or a clown blowing bubbles. (Luckily, it is seldom that this happens!)