By Tina Tomiyama

On a brilliant Saturday afternoon in March, amidst flowers and trees, birdsong and cheerful chatter, 20 exhilarated guests assembled in a spacious back patio in View Park, CA. They were the lucky ones who’d gotten seats for a rare storytelling concert by their friend and teacher, Barbara H. Clark.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Barbara performed “They Lived Their Best Lives,” a quartet of stories about memorable women who had crossed her path and enriched her life.

The loving portraits she rendered in Rebecca’s Wisdom, Her Name Was Peggy, Lucy Wrote Letters, and Independent Lovie fired us with zeal to memorialize our own relatives and friends in similarly enchanting stories.

Barbara H Clark telling a story
Barbara H Clark

Barbara H. Clark

Throughout the pandemic, Barbara has held firm to her belief that storytelling requires a live audience, physically present. This indomitable 88-year-old teacher has held classes on her back patio every Thursday afternoon for two years, providing lap blankets in winter, fans in summer—always listening, gently critiquing, and providing brilliant examples of storytelling at its best.

Barbara and her daughter Dawn plan to reopen the Institute of Musical Arts for its signature storytelling-concert-and-reception events this year, as soon as conditions permit. Stay tuned for announcements!

Institute of Musical ArtsBARBARA H. CLARK is a professional storyteller who performs original personal stories written for adults. They include events from life in a small east coast town and in Los Angeles, stories of her family heritage, profiles of memorable relatives, and accounts of spooky events. She has performed in storytelling concerts and festivals all over southern California. Her polished stage presence reflects the 30 years she spent as an administrator with Los Angeles Public Library. Her love of books is seen in her 14 years as secretary to a Literacy Council which provided books and storytellers to 26 preschools. Barbara is a five-time recipient of L.A. City Cultural Affairs grants to perform her stories at Senior Citizen Centers, and a four-time recipient of foundation grants to teach personal storytelling to high school students. She served nine years as Artist-In- Residence at Vineyard Recreation Center teaching storytelling to seniors. She was recognized as an “Unsung Hero of the Year” in 2005 by KCET- TV for her work with seniors, and her storytelling workshop TELL ME A STORY was highlighted on television for the full month of February. Now in its 18th year, that workshop is currently sponsored by the Institute of Musical Arts where Barbara also serves as Artistic Director for the Ray G. Clark Theater. She is a recipient of the “Storytelling Spirit Award” presented by the Los Angeles Storytelling Festival, and the “Unsung Shero Award” presented by Women In NAACP. Barbara has a B.A. degree from Howard University and a M.L.S. degree from the University of Southern California.

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