Central Park statue for the Danish author
In Central Park, a statue of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen has served as the nexus for a vibrant storytelling community since 1956. Different storytellers entertain both regulars and tourists during the summer months, and a wide variety of stories are told, yet, they share the common theme of compassion (Sufi tales, Jewish stories, etc.). The Danish American society behind the initiative has been promoting both H. C. Andersen and storytelling in schools and after school programs through the years. By embracing H.C. Andersen stories, the attempt is to promote resilient life skills in less privileged children through storytelling. The H.C. Anderson Complex is a school placed in Harlem and the students there are of mainly African-American heritage. The idea is to empower the children by educating them. Not just the stories by but also the life story of H.C. Andersen (and his underprivileged childhood) are evoked in this project, and empathy becomes a driving force.
The statue sits by the pond in the lower east side of Central Park near 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The H.C. Andersen Complex is located at 134 W. 122nd Street. The arena of the two H.C. Andersen storytelling places are interesting in contrasting ways. The statue is located in a leisurely setting, while the site in Harlem is a busy public school. Both contexts are important for story, performance and events. (June 2011)