Announcement of IATEFL’s new Patron

9th January 2024

On behalf of the IATEFL Board of Trustees I am delighted to announce that Jan Blake has agreed to become the new Patron of IATEFL, following on from the amazing Professor David Crystal who stood down after many years of service to the association at our Harrogate conference last year.

Jan Blake is a storyteller, consultant, mentor & plenary speaker who has been performing world-wide since 1986. Born in Manchester, UK to Jamaican parents, Jan specialises in folktales and myths from the Caribbean, West Africa, North Africa, and the Arab regions.

Always innovating within the form she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling appearing at most major international storytelling festivals, leads storytelling workshops for schools and universities and has been a contributor to BBC Radio programmes.

Jan’s career highlights include storyteller in-residence at Hay Festival, the Viljandi International Folk Music Festival in Estonia and TEDx Warsaw & Tedx Manchester. 

She has developed relationships with several major organisations, including the National Theatre, where she spent a decade as the Storytelling Consultant, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Geographical Society, Natural History Museum, UNHCR, the British Council, and now with IATEFL.

In 2011, Jan was the recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling, the first non-German to be awarded the prize.

As part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, she was the curator for Shakespeare’s Stories, a landmark exhibition that explored themes of journey and identity, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In 2013, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba toured to acclaim winning a British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).

IATEFL had the pleasure of having Jan as a plenary speaker at the IATEFL International Conference in Birmingham in 2016.

In 2021 she launched her own online storytelling school, the Akua Storytelling Project. The school is devoted to developing a new generation of international storytellers, as well as helping teachers to become great storytellers in the classroom.

We are very much looking forward to working with Jan as our Patron as we continue to take the Association forward.

With very best wishes,

Aleksandra Popovski-Golubovikj
IATEFL President

Quick link: watch Jan Blake's plenary at the 2016 IATEFL International Conference in Birmingham