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  • The Burden of Paradise: North Yorkshire Travelogue

    The Burden Of Paradise has just completed eight sell-out performances in North Yorkshire. This is their view of the experience, submitted by Dave Bowie Jr - thanks Dave for a great insight into rural touring from an artist's point of view!

    Touring village halls in North Yorkshire was, in the end, all about food. Partly because in Weaverthorpe Helen won a sack of potatoes in the raffle; but mostly because it demonstrated the amount of kindness shown to us. Night after night we were served delicious home-cooked meals, and night after night we felt welcomed and ready to create our very best performances. In our Napoleonic way, we were marching on our stomach.

    We played eight halls over two weeks, and at every one we were invited into the community. Many delighted people told us they’d had no idea what to expect, but were so glad they’d ‘taken a risk’. And we were glad too. Molly, an 87-year-old who smiled and swayed in her wheelchair in Pickering, told us she’d never been to a concert before. In Great Broughton, Paul said it was as though four friends had come to join him. And in Potto someone said ‘That was brilliant ... and it’s only 100 yards to get home!

    Touring can be a gruelling experience, and time spent travelling can far exceed the time spent making music. So it was fantastic to live locally, and enjoy time to rehearse and develop new material. Almost every night we had new songs, and often the idea had only germinated that morning. Our days always involve instrumental excercises and musical keep-fit routines, but this was a chance to bask in the immediacy of music, to feel dedicated and purposeful.

    Each venue had a character of its own, and each performance felt fresh and new. Each arrival was a new discovery of kindness, welcome and helpfulness. All the concerts sold out, and we were constantly met by smiling faces and standing ovations — if you could bank thanks, we’d all be millionaires! Musicians can be a paranoid bunch, but this was enough to allay the most entrenched anxieties.

    With different groups, we have played stadiums, festivals and grand concert halls across Europe and across the world, but none of these can match the intimacy and energy of small venues and village halls; none can match the hospitality and warmth of local folk. It was paradise — without the burden!

    And whether or not music is the food of love, food is certainly the love of musicians. Instead of recording another CD, we’re wondering whether to compile a recipe book. Rural Recipes?

    And this was the Hunmanby promoter's reaction:

    Still in Seventh Heaven after last night's gig — how fabulous! It was a brilliant evening — thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. Everyone loved you. You have a great range of material, heart warming, funny, sad and lovely. It was an absolute pleasure.

    The Burden Of Paradise website is

  • Goodbye Bob, hello Caroline!

    We join NRTF member Arts Out West this week in saying goodbye and happy retirement to Artistic Director Bob Pritchard and hello to their new Artistic Director, Caroline Aston:

    Bob Pritchard retires from his role as Artistic Director of Arts Out West today.

    Bob started working as a volunteer at Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Arts centre when it opened in 1995. For the first 10 years of its existence it was entirely volunteer-run and Bob, while working in education, took the lead in programming shows there. In 2006 he was appointed Project Co-ordinator for the West Cumbria Rural Touring Scheme (later re-named  Arts Out West) and began a professional career in the Arts at the advanced age of 57.

    In 2009 Kirkgate Arts took over responsibility for Arts Out West , and his current role involves both the rural touring and the venue-based programme.  He is handing over this role to Caroline Aston, formerly executive manager of NEAT, the touring scheme for North East Scotland, who is moving down to Cockermouth.

    Caroline spent twelve years working as a stage and production manager for a variety of theatres and touring companies and moved to NEAT in 2008. Caroline is delighted to be taking on the role at Kirkgate Arts, continuing to work within the rural touring sector in addition to taking on the responsibility of programming a venue. 

  • Company Pitching Day at the Kirkgate in Cumbria

    Northern touring schemes, PANDA and NRTF Pitching and Mentoring Project

    Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th March 2013

    A partnership between 5 Northern touring schemes ( Arts Out West, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, Spot On, Highlights and Artery), PANDA and NRTF saw a vibrant day of activity up in Cumbria where companies and artists pitched their work to the schemes.

    After short listing from 28 companies and artists 8 companies headed to the Kirkgate in Cumbria, home of Arts Out West to pitch work to the group which they are looking to develop into a rural tour.

    The event began the evening before when schemes met a number of the companies at the Cockermouth Youth Hostel, where storyteller Ian Douglas performed his new piece, Jack on the Green.

    Each pitch and company presented work in various states of development. All artists and companies were new to rural touring and were looking to develop their work into rural areas.


    The companies chosen to pitch were Dansformation – Dance and film, Lingua Franca – World music agency, Quarantine – Interactive installation pieces, The Edge – Theatre Company, Molly Orange - Family Circus and Ben Power- Theatre with digital images. Dominic Berry was also selected but sadly was unable to attend due to illness.

    Each company pitched extracts or examples of the work on offer and talked around the pieces on offer. 

    After the pitches the group arranged how best to support each company going forward with advice and opportunities in developing work for rural touring. This will involve setting up future meetings and advice sessions with companies, exploring opportunities the companies to showcase and gain feedback on work in development, providing advice and  support in developing tours and funding models.

    In addition The Edge theatre company were selected from the pitching artists to receive a place at the NRTF conference in Sterling this July. It is hoped that experience will help the company develop their knowledge of the wider rural touring community and develop their work to suit the demands of rural touring in the future.

    Also presenting to the group were Artisani/Avanti display. The group are supporting the creation of new work from Artisani/Avanti Display who are creating a circus piece for rural touring to tour this Autumn, following on from last years pitching event. We are delighted that Artisani/Avanti have successfully bid for Grants for the Arts and are creating the piece during the coming months.

    We very much look forward to seeing the Artisani/Avanti piece as it progresses and also to meeting The Edge at the conference in July.

    For more information on this project contact Alice at

    James McPherson from Artizani attempts one of his Six Impossible Things

  • Flicks in the Sticks director receives invitation to royal reception

    NRTF member Arts Alive have received royal recognition for their Flicks in the Sticks rural cinema network.

    Flicks in the Sticks screened the film ‘The Queen’ fifty times, and now director Ian Kerry gets a chance to meet her, following an invitation to a royal reception at Windsor Castle for the British Film Industry. Thanks to Flicks in the Sticks over 30,000 people saw nearly 800 films in 100 local venues. Flicks in the Sticks has built up and developed for 14 years, now many halls have their own projection equipment and some have also been able to offer the live simultaneous broadcasts of NTlive, ballet and opera. Shropshire and Herefordshire enjoy access to cinema unmatched by any other rural county in England. Every week Flicks in Sticks receives enquires from people in other parts of the country wanting to offer the same service.

    Ian Kerry said “I feel an enormous honour to be invited, and I will be representing all of the Flicks promoters and volunteers; without their continued commitment and enthusiasm Flicks in the Sticks would not be the vibrant organisation that is has become.”

    This is the second time Ian has been invited to a reception at Windsor Castle to celebrate the contribution to the UK by Rural Communities, in 2010 he was invited in recognition of his work supporting rural communities in Shropshire and Herefordshire.