Latest News

  • Exciting Opportunity for an artist or designer

    Artsreach has recently been awarded Arts Council support to help with our fundraising.

    One of the strands of the bid is creating donation boxes that will be at our events where we will encourage our audiences to donate money in donation envelopes or loose change. We would like the boxes to reflect a sense of place and the rural environment of our venues as well as being quirky, fun and appealing. We are seeking to commission a designer/artist to design and produce donation boxes that are:

    • Artsreach branded
    • Distinctive and individual
    • Easily stored and carried
    • Robust and strong
    • To be sealed temporarily and therefore have a slot large enough for our donation envelopes which measures 10cm wide.
    • Reflect the range and quality of our work

    Designers/artists are invited to apply and a committee will invite 5 selected designers/artists to submit more in-depth designs for a fee of £200 each. These will be considered carefully and the artist who is successful at this stage will then be invited to work up their proposal of the design and make up 20 boxes, each to be given a small individual twist in. There is total design and production budget for boxes of £2500.

    Your initial application should include a short C.V. together with some examples of your work and a very rough outline of how you would meet the specifications of the brief. These initial ideas only need to be in simple sketch form.

    Please email your initial proposals to by Friday 7th September and from then our selection committee will look at the applications and select 5 designers to develop their designs to a further stage.  

  • Call Out to Artists for Applause Rural Touring Outdoors Commissions

    Applause Rural Touring Outdoors Season 2019

    Applications are now open for Applause Rural Touring Outdoors scheme in 2019.

    In summer 2019, Applause Rural Touring will be programming outdoor performances into existing, locally organised village fetes, community events and Festivals in Kent and Sussex. These events take place almost exclusively at weekends from May to September.

    We are looking to commission companies / artists with an established interest and track record of working outdoors and interactively who would like to be part of this programme.

    We are looking for work that entertains and engages a diverse audience. Your show will need to be self-sufficient (i.e. not require technical or other support / involvement by the host organisation) and be able to be accessed by non-age specific audiences. They can be walk about or static productions but they are intended to suit a range of time frames (i.e. does not require the audience to arrive at a certain time and remain for a set amount of time). You will be expected to perform up to three times in a day and your show should be no longer than 30mins. Please visit for more information about our current touring season.

    For 2019 we are offering the following opportunities and expect to take out between 6-8 shows this season:

    Commissions and Reshape/Development Awards

    • *New outdoor works: commission fees up to £4000
    • *Existing outdoor works that requires some reshaping/development to tour rurally: development fees between £500 - £2500

    Performance dates will be booked only on satisfactory development of the piece and an agreed show fee (please see show fee guide below).

    Information for Artists:

    Technical Challenges
    We will be placing work in a variety of community settings including events that can provide very little technical or other support – the more technical requirements you have, the fewer the possible bookings.

    Your piece will have to fit around other events in the host event programmes so please consider whether you require the audience to arrive at a certain time and remain for a set amount of time. We aim to offer each artist/company between 6-12 bookings between May – September 2019 within the Applause Outdoors region. Your show should be no longer than 30 mins and we would expect you to perform 2-3 times per day.

    Show Fee Guide
    Touring Fees must be fully inclusive of all accommodation and travel. We expect to pay within the range of £350 - £650 per show. (For any enquiries/bookings Applause receives outside of the Applause Outdoors region (Kent, Sussex) we will discuss appropriate rates with you).

    Artist / Company Administration
    Artist / company administration needs to be very strong. Applause will be responsible for booking a place and date for your show but the company will then be responsible for making specific arrangements and finalising details with host venues and promoters. Many of these hosts are volunteers and have no specialist theatre knowledge – you will need to be flexible, understanding and informative.

    Your show must be ready and available for touring from the end of April. You need to have very good availability for weekends throughout May to September 2019 and prioritise dates for Applause within an agreed time frame for shows in Kent and Sussex.

    We will expect most of the development work to take place between November 2018 and March/April 2019. Applause will require evidence (photos and / or video) of the work undertaken and to see work in progress. Companies will be required to submit regular updates both during development and while on tour. Applause will provide support and practical advice during the development process.

    Application Process
    Please fill in an application form available to download from the column on the right.

    Please send application forms by email to making it clear in the subject line which funding option you are applying for by 5pm Monday 10 September 2018. If you have been shortlisted, you will be notified by email by Wednesday 19 September. We will acknowledge receipt of your proposal, however, we regret we are unable to provide feedback to non-shortlisted applicants.

  • Job Opportunity: Highlights Rural Touring - Director (Job Share)

    Highlights is looking to appoint a self-motivated, energetic and enthusiastic person to lead the organisation going forward. The role of the Director will be to work in partnership with the existing Co-Director to manage and develop the strategic and operational activities of Highlights in Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland.

    We work with over 70 village halls and volunteer promoters bringing professional arts to rural communities.

    Salary: NJC Scale equivalent 28 - 34:  £25,463 - £30,756 per annum (pro rata)
    Hours of Work: 2.5 days per week

    The post will be based in Appleby, Cumbria. Flexible hours.
    For further information and to download details please visit

  • Winners of the Rural Touring Awards 2018 Announced

    • Poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan hosted a ceremony attended by nominees
    • Ragged Edge’s The Chef Show and Apphia Campbell win performance prizes

    The winners of the second annual Rural Touring Awards have been announced at the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) New Directions conference in Worcester. Nominated by over 350 individuals, and with winners selected by an industry panel, the awards recognize the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff (find the full list of winners below.

    The 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 selected the winners from a shortlist announced earlier this month.

    Music performance of the year was won by Apphia Campbell for her touring show Black is the Colour of my Voice, which in addition to rural touring, was a sell out show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Stage performance of the year was won by theatre company Ragged Edge for their debut production The Chef Show. Written by playwright and broadcaster Nick Ahad, The Chef Show is part comedy play, part cooking demonstration and reflects on the villages and market towns where there are ‘Indian’ restaurants with staff that rarely have any contact with their community apart from serving them food.

    The award for Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year was won by Highlights rural touring scheme and November Club for creating Beyond the End of the Road, a new site-specific musical presented at eight Northumberland village halls and at Hexham Cattle Mart.

    Voluntary promoter of the year was awarded to Mike Greener from Spittal, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and a Young Person of the Year was won by a group of young people aged 12-18, the Forest Young Promoters who each year programme up to three shows for rural touring in Gloucestershire.

    The NRTF Special Award was open to all nominations and seeks to recognise an individual or a group who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of rural touring. This year’s winner was Barbara Slack from Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.

    One of her nominees said “It's not so much what Barbara has done in the last 12 months; it's more what she has done in the past 21 years. Barbara was the first director of Highlights when it began in 1997. She has grown the organisation from working with a handful of village venues in four districts of the North Pennines to programming in the region of 160 performances per year in around 65 village and community venues across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland. She has been not only a dedicated and devoted manager and leader for Highlights, but also an advocate for rural touring across the UK.”

    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.

    The presentation of awards took place at 9pm on 27th June at Worcester University at the NRTF New Directions conference


    Music Performance of the Year

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

    Stage Performance of the Year

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

    Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year

    • WINNER 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)
    • WINNER Mike Greener - Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)

    Young Person of The Year

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

    Speaking about the awards, NRTF Director Holly Lombardo said “It has been a privilege to be a part of this year’s awards for the first time. Hearing people talk about why they value the productions and people in Rural Touring Network and why they have made a difference to lives and their area has been heartwarming and inspiring.

    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