Sydney’s Story Factory Takes Cues From Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia

An initiative to develop the literary minds of disadvantaged Sydney kids has received not only widespread community support, but also its first seed funding, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Sydney Mayor Clover Moore.

Founded by Sydney Morning Herald journalists Cath Keenan and Tim Dick, The Sydney Story Factory is an independent, non for profit learning centre that will provide children with the opportunity to develop their literacy skills.

The contribution was donated from the Mayor’s Salary Trust and awarded at a ceremony at Sydney Town Hall yesterday. $5,000 was also received from the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency, which will go towards funding the initiative’s launch and shop presence at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May.

The Sydney Story Factory is an idea inspired by McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers and his 826 Valencia project in America. Eggers’ tutoring centre for kids opened in San Francisco in 2002 and has since gone national; prompting novelist Nick Hornby to open a similar centre in London late last year.

Run entirely by volunteer authors, journalists, editors and the like, the Sydney Store Factory will provide children with the foundations from which to pursue storytelling in all its creative formats; and encourage them to explore their own artistic potential. The idea is to target children from disadvantaged, migrant and indigenous backgrounds and if funding and support continues to flourish, a centre will open in Redfern at the end of this year.

The Sydney space will also feature a fantastical shop, based on Eggers’ ‘Pirate Supply Shop’ and Hornby’s ‘Monster Supplies,’ store, (in order to comply with zoning laws, Eggers had to sell something. Peg legs and eye patches worked in attracting both children and revenue). Creative agency The Glue Society have come up with three ideas: The Martian Embassy, The Mad Scientist Supply Shop and the Circus Supply Store. So far, feedback has ranked them in that order of preference.

The Sydney Store Factory is still calling for volunteers, so check out The Sydney Story Factory blog for more details and sign up for a worthwhile cause. Below, check out Eggers’ TED talk explaining the project.