Artsreach in Dorset welcome Becky Varndell to the team as their new Marketing and Development Officer. We got in touch with Becky to find out a little bit more about her, and what rural touring means to her!
1. Introduce yourself! Who are you and where have you come from and what will you be doing with Artsreach?
My name is Becky Varndell and I am the newest member of the Artsreach team working as the marketing and development officer. Since graduating from Plymouth University with an English with Media Arts degree in 2012, I have worked in digital marketing for an online events company and most recently as a tourism officer for the Lyme Regis Tourist Office. For the past three years I have acted with Lyme Regis amateur dramatic society’s The Marine Players and in the summer of 2017 I produced and acted in ‘Monmouth’ at the Marine Theatre, which went on to tour the South West in autumn 2017. I am so excited to get stuck into my new role helping to promote the diverse and rich programme of events on offer this season.
2. What does rural touring mean to you?
Rural touring is hugely important because it delivers an accessible programme of professional theatre, dance and music to the heart of rural communities, who may not otherwise have the chance to engage with the arts. Artsreach really enriches Dorset communities, bringing people of diverse backgrounds and ages together to socialise, learn and connect through the arts. What’s more, promoters have the opportunity to choose which events they would like to host in their venue and a portion of the income generated from audience members purchasing tickets plays a vital role in supporting community venues. I feel lucky to work for such a valuable organisation made up of passionate and creative people.
3. What are you most excited about getting stuck into?
I’m looking forward to dreaming up new ways in which Artsreach can develop as a company, helping to deliver new exciting projects to a wide range of audiences. Our spring brochure is currently being finalised and there are some amazing and diverse shows coming up. I can’t wait to spread the word and engage new audience members. I am excited to work closely with the volunteer promoters who work so hard to put everything together for their venue.
4. What was the first rural touring show you ever saw?
I remember being captivated when my parents took me to a puppet show in my local village hall as a child. More recently I have listened to the inspirational Lyme Regis based sea shanty singers Harbour Voices and watched a very poignant performance of Tree House by Chris Fogg Projects.
5. Do you have a top tip for anyone new to rural touring? Maybe a golden nugget about marketing?
When it comes to rural touring, strong, accurate communication is key, particularly as there are many different aspects and needs to fulfil including that of the performer, promoter, volunteers, touring organisation and of course, the audience. It’s also really important to utilise local networks in order to promote a show to it's full advantage. Listening to your audience is essential in order for them to receive the best quality of performances suitable for their village.
Carn to Cove is delighted to announce that it has won a substantial award from the Arts Council of England ‘Strategic Touring Fund’ to develop its work in rural communities in Cornwall, Devon and the South West with a new project ‘Locomotor’. Carn to Cove is a project of the Cornish charity Creative Kernow based at Krowji in Redruth but active in 85 villages and towns around Cornwall. It presents professional rural touring performing arts and film (C Fylm) events through its network of community volunteers.
The Strategic Touring Fund award Carn to Cove has won from the Arts Council is to support their role in making the best in the arts available for rural communities. There are three strands of new activity which Locomotor will deliver:
First is the development of a sustainable rural touring offer in neighbouring Devon. Carn to Cove has been working with Villages in Action, the Devon charity which suspended rural touring performing arts in March 2017. The objective is to secure and resource the volunteer network in Devon active in their local communities to provide “Great Art for Everyone” with high quality performances and to build capacity for the sector there. This will include advocacy to local authorities around the social and economic impacts of arts activity, developing new partnerships in Devon and Cornwall, and testing new models of working between villages and market and coastal towns.
Secondly, the award will support an international programme to present more diverse work of different cultures in the South West. This builds on Carn to Cove hosting the ‘New Directions International’ showcase in Falmouth in 2016 for the National Rural Touring Forum and the international partnerships that have emerged from that - including Cornish companies touring overseas (graduate rural touring company Cheap Date Dance touring to Sweden in October 2017). Artists from Spain, Lithuania and Sweden are among those who will be performing and undertaking workshop and participation activity across all the rural touring schemes in the South West of England with partners Beaford Arts (Devon), Air in G (Gloucestershire), Artsreach ( Dorset), Rural Arts Wiltshire and South Glos, Takeart (Somerset) and Villages in Action (Devon). International touring is a priority area in the Strategic Touring Fund criteria and is partly resourced by the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund.
Thirdly, the Locomotor project will enable the development of new online tools and web presence to improve box office income and therefore sustainability of the touring model. Box office income is already the main source of financing for the performing arts in rural spaces at both Carn to Cove and Villages in Action. Providing centralised online ticketing and marketing will improve access to these services to people living in remote rural communities and therefore attendance and sustainability.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “Our National Lottery-funded Strategic Touring programme takes exciting arts and culture to places and people across the country who might not otherwise get the opportunity to benefit from these experiences. So, we’re pleased to be supporting Carn to Cove to bring the work of talented international artists to the south west, allowing a wide range of audiences to enjoy these shows on their doorsteps.”
Boost for dance in rural areas as second phase of Rural Touring Dance Initiative receives Arts Council England funding
Successful partnership between National Rural Touring Forum, The Place, China Plate and Take Art awarded £416,855 to continue work over next three years
An innovative partnership founded to increase touring by dance companies to rural areas has been awarded £416,855 to continue its work over a further three years. The new funding, announced today, will allow the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) to build on its success by working with more local rural touring schemes and venues, delivering 195 performances over the next three years across England, Wales and Scotland. This is an increase on the 115 performances staged in the first three years of the RTDI, which included touring shows by Uchenna Dance, Lost Dog, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein and Joan Clevillé Dance.
The new funding follows overwhelmingly positive responses to 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.
The second phase of funding will cover curating and supporting three annual ‘menus’ of dance which local promoters can select from, working with dance companies to adapt existing pieces so they are suitable for rural touring and commissioning dance companies to make original work for the rural touring circuit. The RTDI’s first commission, Point of Echoes, a collaboration between international choreographer Ben Wright and musician Stuart Warwick will tour in Spring 2018; further works commissioned especially for rural touring will be developed during the second phase.
Additionally, the next three years will have an enhanced focus to involve more children and young people, as well as support workshops for promoters interested in staging dance performances in village halls and rural venues around the UK, many of whom are volunteers working to stage high quality performance in the heart of their communities. RTDI 2 will also develop partnerships with Pavilion Dance South West and DanceEast, capitalising on this burgeoning new dance audience.
The Rural Touring Dance Initiative was launched in 2015 with the aim of substantially increasing dance touring in rural England over an initial three-year period, due to end in July 2018. It is a partnership between NRTF, the Yorkshire-headquartered membership body for rural touring schemes in the UK; leading dance institution The Place; Birmingham-based independent producing studio China Plate; and Somerset’s county dance agency Take Art. It was formed in response to Arts Council England’s rural evidence and data review (March 2015), which found that only 2% of NPO funded dance companies toured to rural areas.
Speaking about the award, Pete Massey, Director North, Arts Council England said “Yorkshire has a particular strength in dance and I’m delighted that we are supporting the National Rural Touring Forum to develop its dance initiative through our National Lottery funded Strategic Touring programme. Working with partners across the country, they will tour to a variety of places that would not usually host this sort of event, enabling rural audiences who may not have experienced dance before to see performances where they live – and to encourage children and young people to get involved.”
Ralph Lister, Development Director of NRTF, said “The NRTF is absolutely delighted by the Arts Council of England's decision to support the second phase of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative. Driven by a clear vision and commitment, shared by the 4 partners and Project Manager, a strategic intervention of such significance needed this further 3 years to solidify the tremendous gains made so far. The next 3 years will see a further 200 contemporary dance performances in village communities across the UK and we are really excited about working with more dance companies and making rural touring a regular part of their touring activity”.
Ed Collier, Director of China Plate said "This significant second tranche of funding from ACE will allow us to really embed a culture of making dance for rural audiences amongst the most exciting contemporary dance practitioners and companies.”
Eddie Nixon, Director of Theatre, The Place said “The success of this initiative in the first 2 years has shown there’s a huge appetite for dance performance amongst audiences in rural venues and a real desire amongst dance companies to tour there. This support from Arts Council England means we can allow this interest to flourish well into the future”.
Alison Lord, Dance Director, Take Art said “Establishing a network of Rural Touring Scheme Dance Ambassadors is a key development for the next phase as is greater involvement of children and young people. We are excited to be part of this ground breaking audience development initiative and are determined to make it a great success”.
A film about the RTDI has been made by Director Rachel Bunce and can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/227900006/84124db5bd
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.
This is now closed for applications.
The Trustees of the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) are looking to recruit a full time Director who will be responsible for the delivery and development of their Business Plan over the next 4 years.
The last few years have been an exciting period of growth and expansion, both for the NRTF and the rural touring sector as a whole. The company's turnover and activities have increased through a range of partnerships and development opportunities, whilst the rural touring sector has seen its audience and profile grow steadily. The Board of the NRTF now wish to appoint an effective leader to develop the activities of the company and oversee the management of the organisation.
This post is a new and exciting opportunity within the NRTF and as such the Board is looking for applications from dynamic, skilled and well-connected people who can help build on the organisation’s growth to date and drive forward its vision and mission. You will be a true ‘all-rounder’, someone with the character, charisma and commitment to lead the organisation who is also willing to fulfil the essential operating and administration tasks that enable the company to function and thrive.
The Director is the first point of call for our members and stakeholders. A public facing position, the Director has responsibility for relationships with the companies and organisations that constitute our membership, our funders including Arts Council England and other charitable supporters, and with our Trustees. A key advocate for the NRTF, the Director oversees the general management of the organisation and ensures high standards in delivering its work and promoting its position as a leading cultural organisation.
For further information about this position and details of how to apply please download the recruitment of director application pack to the right.
Closing date for applications 10.00am 11th December 2017.