Latest News

  • Shortlist announced for second annual Rural Touring Awards

    • Winners to be announced at a ceremony on 27th June by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan

    The National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) has announced the shortlist for Rural Touring Awards to celebrate rural touring in the UK. Over 350 individuals nominated artists, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff for awards (please find the shortlist below).

    The awards will be presented during a ceremony at Worcester University held on 27th June during the NRTF’s New Directions showcase. The presentation will be made by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan (BBC Radio 3’s The Verb), a strong supporter of rural arts who recently penned a special poem for the NRTF commemorating Village Halls Week.

    Following the success of the inaugural awards in 2017 which were given at the NRTF conference and saw dance company Lost Dog and rural touring scheme staff and volunteers around the UK win for outstanding practice, the NRTF has decided the awards will be held annually in a ceremony celebrating rural touring and those who make it happen.

    Nominations across five categories were made by audiences, touring scheme staff, artists and promoters. The introduction of a new Music Performance category for the first time this year recognises the quantity and quality of live music on the rural touring circuit and is distinct from the Stage Performance of the Year Award, which covers achievement in theatre, dance, spoken word or comedy. Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year will reward outstanding examples of partnership working, whether in commissioning artists, seeking sponsors or audience development.

    In making the awards, judges will be looking for examples of excellent and dedicated practice and innovative and forward-looking work. The NRTF special award is open to all - from touring schemes and volunteers to artists or touring companies – and seeks to recognise an individual or a group who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of rural touring.

    Music Performance of the year
    Apphia Campbell - Black Is The Color of My Voice
    Clive Carroll – A Thousand Years of Music
    Whalebone – UK Tour

    Stage Performance of the Year

    This award is Sponsored by – you produce the show - we produce the cover is an online theatre insurance facility specialising in fringe and touring productions. We take the hassle out of insurance and can provide a competitively priced quote in minutes. is your step by step, easy to follow, one stop solution to your production insurance requirements. With access available to your account 24/7, everything can be processed at a time convenient to you.

    Forget Me Not - The Alzheimer's Whodunnit - Rob Gee
    The Chef Show – Ragged Edge
    The Deep - 10ft Tall Theatre

    Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year
    Beyond the End of the Road – Highlights rural touring scheme (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham) and November Club working together to create and tour a site-specific musical
    Common Lore – Solo storytelling show created via a collaboration between Spot On Lancashire, Cheshire Rural Touring, Lancashire Libraries and Sophia Hatfield.
    Inn Crowd – An initiative enabling rural pubs to host spoken word-inspired live performance led by touring schemes Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich and Pub Is The Hub.

    Voluntary promoter of the Year
    Christine Reilly – Creative Arts East (Norfolk, Suffolk and the East)
    Janet Wood – Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)
    Mike Greener - Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)

    Young Person of The Year
    Crystal Zillwood (Dance Artist - Devon)
    Forest Young Promoters - Arts in Rural Gloucestershire
    Hannah Wood (Technical Stage Manager, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire)

    The shortlist will now go before an independent judging panel comprising Deborah Clarke (Action with Communities in Rural England ACRE), playwright Sayan Kent, Reviews Editor and Joint Chief Critic for The Stage, Natasha Tripney and rural touring promoter Des George, winner of last year’s Best Promoter award.

    Speaking about the awards, NRTF Director Holly Lombardo said “The Rural Touring Awards raise the profile of professional arts and performance taking place in Rural locations across the UK. Its aim is to recognise the hard work, energy, passion and dedication those involved in this lively and growing sector have.”

    Ian McMillan said “'I'm proud to be part of these awards that celebrate the makers of the dynamic arts renaissance that's sweeping the country, realigning our idea of what true centres of excellence can be and can become. All hail the village hall! All hail rural touring!'
    Rural touring is a growing sector of the UK’s arts industry with NRTF figures indicating that audience numbers attending shows in village halls and at outdoor rural events have increased 26% since 2006/7.

    #RuralTAwards | @ruraltouring | #ruraltouring |

    Notes to editors

    Rural Touring Awards
    The 2018 awards cover activity which has taken place between Spring 2017-Spring 2018. Further information on award categories and eligibility can be found here:

    Those eligible to submit nominations for the awards can do so here:

    The shortlisted nominees will be invited to attend the award ceremony on 27th June at Worcester University as part of the New Directions showcase. New Directions (26-28 June) is a bi-annual showcase of contemporary performance available for rural touring curated by independent producing studio China Plate.

    About the NRTF
    The National Rural Touring Forum is a member-led organisation that works strategically with partners to develop work and deliver high quality art experiences that strengthen rural and other communities. It provides the rural touring network with training, information and networking services and enable international partnerships and commissions. The organisation aims to promote better understanding of the value of rural and community touring through research and advocacy. Across the UK there are currently 33 NRTF member schemes and over 1,500 promoting groups showing live work to approximately 250,000 people in rural communities each year.

  • Job Opportunity: Highlights Rural Touring, Part-time Administrator

    Highlights is a thriving arts organisation based in Appleby. We work with over 65 village halls and volunteer promoters bringing professional arts to rural communities. 

    We have an exciting opportunity for a part-time administrator.

    If you are familiar with Microsoft Office, Quickbooks and have good organisational and communication skills, we would love to hear from you.

    The post is 3 days a week based in Appleby.

    Flexible hours.

    For further details please email

  • Rural Touring Dance Initiative seeks Freelance Marketing Manager

    The Rural Touring Dance Initiaive are looking for an experienced freelance Marketing Manager with a knowledge of Rural Touring to ensure the effective delivery of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) project over the next three years. Are you, or do you know of anybody who may be interested in taking on this role?

    The Marketing Manager will work closely with the RTDI Project Manager to:

    • Help raise awareness of the project and its aims with principally the dance community/industry nationally.
    • Practically assist companies involved in the project to tailor their marketing materials, digital, print and social media to the rural sector
    • Assist in making information companies share with schemes, promoters and audiences as accessible and ‘rural touring friendly’ as possible

    Fee: £6000 – indicative of 40 days @ £150 per day plus travel and subsistence costs as agreed with the Project Manager

    Timescale: The initial contract will be for 12 months from July 2018 and may be renewed for up to three years till the project ends in July 2021

    Application process: Applicants should send a CV and written statement of no more than two sides of A4 detailing their skills and experience and why they would like to apply for this opportunity to Claire Smith, RTDI Project Manager –

    Deadline for applications: 31st May 2018
    Interviews to take place on 19th June 2018 (location and venue tbc).

    Start Date: Ideally to start as soon as possible but no later than 19 July 2018.

    Download the full brief for the role from the box on the right hand side of the screen.


    The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.


    T 01460 249450

    Twitter; @rural_dance 

    For more information about the project

  • Dance artists sought to create new shows for rural audiences

    • A second three-year Rural Touring Dance Initiative 2018-2021 has now been launched
    • A £10,000 commission on offer for UK based companies to create new work
    • A second £10,000 to be offered to a Wales based artist or company to create a new work
    • Funds up to £5,000 for 6 companies to adapt existing work to tour rural areas

    The second phase of a scheme to improve access to dance in rural communities has been launched this evening with a call out to artists interested in creating or developing work for village halls. Rural Touring Dance Initiative 2 is a partnership between the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) and The Place, Take Art and China Plate. Dance is underrepresented on the rural touring circuit and the partnership is seeking to increase opportunities for rural audiences to experience the art form.

    Having been granted a second major award from Arts Council England Strategic Touring programme and a new award from Arts Council Wales, the partnership is able to offer offering two commissions of £10,000 to dance companies to make a new show for rural touring, one of which must be based in Wales. There are also a limited number of grants of up to £5,000 for artists with existing shows to adapt them for rural touring.

    Speaking about the call out, Ralph Lister, Director, NRTF’s Rural Touring Dance Initiative, said “The partners are excited about building on the successes of the first 3 years and delighted that there will be a stronger presence in Wales. This development demonstrates that the project is working and a broader base of support will strengthen its sustainability beyond 2021”.

    This is the second phase of a project that has already seen Ben Wright’s bgroup commissioned to create Point of Echoes, and a number of companies to adapt existing works.  Speaking about the experience of rural touring after participating in phase one, Luca Silvestrini, Artistic Director of Luca Silvestrini’s Protein said “We are in a state of bliss. I’ve never experienced dancers and crew being more satisfied and wanting to do more”. 

    Rural Touring Dance Initiative 2 follows an overwhelmingly positive response to the first phase of the project from participating rural touring schemes and promoters, with 93% of promoters reporting an increased interest in promoting dance and 100% of touring schemes reporting that the RTDI increased their interest in programming dance. Rural touring is a growing sector of the UK’s arts industry with NRTF figures indicating that audience numbers attending shows in village halls and at outdoor rural events have increased 26% since 2006/7.
    Companies interested in applying should visit  for further information