- Oct. 23, 2020
-- In the midst of COVID-19, socialization and communication have been deeply altered and many modes of engagement have been shut off. For the past several months, Sara Kate Baudhuin, the Community Collaboration and Advocacy Coordinator at Charlotte Art League (CAL), has been brainstorming solutions to this and searching for innovative ways to spark connections within the Charlotte community. The result is a contactless "storytelling payphone" experience that seeks to redefine what community engagement can look like in the midst of a pandemic by using a payphone as a form of asynchronous story-sharing. The contactless nature of the "Charlotte Listens" storytelling payphone will allow participants to listen to the stories of others in Charlotte, share their own stories and perspectives, and feel community connection, all while remaining safe.
The "storytelling payphone" consists of a traditional payphone pedestal without the actual payphone inside. Instead, there is a panel with a QR code that, when scanned, prompts the user to call a designated storytelling phone number. By choosing from a panel of options, participants can listen to 5 different short stories which were recorded by previous participants. The payphone has an option to listen to instructions and stories completely in Spanish as well. With the help of some guided story prompts, participants are then invited to share an anecdote or story of their own. All recordings are screened by the CAL team before being added so that none contain inappropriate or emotionally-
triggering content. As new stories are recorded on the payphone voicemail, the menu of story options is updated, so there will be different stories available to listen to from day to day.
The initial installment of the "Charlotte Listens" payphone will launch this Tuesday (10/27) at Charlotte Art League at 4100A Raleigh Street. The phone will remain outside CAL for two weeks before moving to its next partner location in Charlotte. From now until the end of the year, the payphone will travel around the city and spend two-week installation periods at each location. Each new "pop-up" location will be announced on social media. "We encourage members of the community to grab a friend or loved one and come visit the payphone as it travels around Charlotte! Listening to stories, then sharing stories of your own, makes for a perfect family outing, date night, or afternoon with a friend!" Baudhuin notes.
Follow along on Instagram @charlotte.listens to track the location of the payphone and to hear audio montages of stories from each location!About Charlotte Art League:
Founded in 1965, Charlotte Art League has served as an accessible gateway to the arts experience for art lovers of all ages and backgrounds. CAL relies on annual membership dues, studio rentals, donations, and grants to sustain its activities. More info: http://www.charlotteartleague.org