Our History

This is the history of our company

Since 1997 the NRTF has registered a number of notable successes. These include:

• 1997: A successful bid to the Arts Council A4E funding programme for £500,000. This grant supported a three year programme of project delivery through the partner members at a local level as well as organisational development for the sector as a whole.

• 2001: A commissioned tour by the NRTF of Kala Sangam Rural Voices, a combination of South Asian music, dance and literature, funded by the Arts Council of England National Touring Programme for £38,430. The NRTF identified a gap in programming and this piece toured nationally on a 21 date tour.

• 2001: Regional Arts Lottery Programme award of £77,050 for organisational development.

• 2002 – 2005: A successful bid to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for £95,000 for ‘Rural Connections’, a 3 year programme of 17 different projects run by member schemes. This grant levered a further £125,000 from other sources for projects.

• 2003: The NRTF commissioned Francois Matarasso to research and write about the social impact of rural touring, raising funding of £84,000 from Carnegie Trust, Countryside Agency and others. This resulted in ‘Only Connect’, the first attempt to document rural touring.

• 2004: The NRTF became a Regularly Funded Organisation  (RFO) of Arts Council England.

• 2004: The NRTF received £10,000 of ACE managed funds to work towards increasing the availability of culturally diverse work on the rural touring network.

• 2005 – 2008: A second successful bid to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for £100,000 for a further 3 year round of projects run by members. Projects attracted an additional £200,000 from other sources.

• 2006: NRTF funded as part of Arts Council, England, Yorkshire (£3,000) initiative to encourage international development through ietm.

• 2007: NRTF awarded funding of £40,000 towards a programme of CPD and international work.

• 2007 – 2008: NRTF awarded £79,656 from ACE towards International Village of Culture.

• 2009: The NRTF organised International Village of Culture (IVOC) as a counterpoint to the idea of Liverpool European Capital of Culture which attracted funding from Culture 10 of £159,000.  This comprised of collaborative creative commissions, an international showcase and the conference itself.  Delegates came from the UK, France, Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Holland, Finland, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

• 2009: NRTF awarded £10,000 from ACE, Yorkshire towards IVOC legacy which resulted in a tour of  Baltic artists throughout the rural areas of the UK.

• 2009: NRTF awarded £10,000 from ACE for A night less ordinary project.

• 2010: NRTF awarded £10,000 from ACW towards the costs of the 2011 conference.

2011: NRTF becomes a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England

2011: NRTF works in partnership with Jazz Services to support their Rural Touring Project.

2012: NRTF successfully applies with Contact Theatre to the National Strategic Touring fund.

2013: NRTF awarded £25,000 from Creative Scotland towards the cost of the 2013 Conference held in Stirling.

2015 NRTF successfully applies to Arts Council England for the second round of NPO funding. Taking the organisation through until 2018.

2015 NRTF successfully applies to Arts Council England Strategic Touring Funds for a 3 year Dance Initiative.

The NRTF has also produced a number of publications to support member schemes, volunteer promoters and companies and artists interested in rural touring. These include:

• 2000: The Promoters Don’t Panic Pack – a guide for local promoters subsequently used for a similar publication in Scotland
• 2003: The Touring Scheme Toolkit – a step by step guide to creating and developing rural touring schemes (author Richard King, published by Arts Council of England)
• 2003: An audience research project by South West Arts Marketing and the National Rural Touring Forum
• 2003: Only Connect (author Francois Matarasso, published by Comedia) – the first large scale study of rural touring
• 2008: Eyes Wide Open -  a practical guide to rural touring for companies and performers

The NRTF has organised a number of successful conferences:
• 1999 – in partnership with Highlights North
• 2000 – in partnership with Rural Arts North Yorkshire
• 2001 – in partnership with Oxfordshire rural touring network
• 2002 – in partnership with the South West touring schemes, Take Art, Village Voice, Artsreach, Villages in Action
• 2003 – in partnership with Lancashire rural touring network
• 2004 – in partnership with Rural Arts Wiltshire
• 2005 – in partnership with West Midlands Touring schemes Black Country Touring, Arts Alive and Live and Local.  Conference theme – Diversity
• 2006 – in partnership with Creative Arts East.  Conference theme – Engaging with the wider community
• 2007 – in partnership with Arts in Rural Gloucestershire and the Theatre Production Office.  Conference theme – Theatre and the rural community
• 2008 – National Networking meeting Birmingham – Theme IVOC planning
• 2009 –in partnership with the Northern Consortium of touring schemes, Culture 10 and Arts Council England.  Conference theme IVOC International Village of Culture and Showcase festival
• 2009 – in partnership with Decibel and Arts Council England.  National networking day Manchester
• 2010 – in partnership with Essex on Tour. Conference theme – New Networks
• 2011 – in partnership with Arts Council Wales.  Conference theme - Hard to reach communities

2012 - New Directions Showcase Festival in partnership with China Plate and Warwick Art Centre

2013 - Developing Networks Conference in partnership with North East Arts Touring, Promoters Arts Network, Federation of Scottish Theatres and Creative Scotland

2014 - New Directions Showcase Festival in partnership with China Plate and York Theatre Royal

2015 - Conference in partnership with Creative Arts East and Applause Rural Touring Scheme.

NRTF has also taken a prominent role in a number of profile raising, policy influencing initiatives. These include:

• 2005: ‘Country Dancing’ - a national symposium on dance and rural areas jointly organised with the National Foundation for Community Dance and Dance South West
• 2005 – 2008: Member of the rural touring and cultural diversity initiative
• 2004: Member of the Arts Council of England ‘Economic Impact Study of UK Theatre’ steering group
• 2005: Member of the Arts Council of England ‘Social Impact Study of UK Theatre’ steering group
• 2010: Founder member of IVOC – an informal network of international partners aimed at linking rural communities (internationally) through live arts and culture
2014 - present member of the Arts Council England Rural Stakeholders Group