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Arts Council England Chair supports vision for the sustainability of rural arts

Arts Council England Chair supports vision for the sustainability of rural arts during visit to brand new National Rural Touring Forum Head Quarters.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chairman of Arts Council England, met with rural arts organisations at the headquarters of National Rural Touring Forum in the village of Stanford Dingley, West Berkshire. Sir Nick was joined by local ACE National Portfolio Organisations Water Mill Theatre, Corn Exchange Newbury, and personnel from cultural organisations such as LIVR, Metis Theatre, New Adventures, McCurdy & Co., Farnham Maltings and Julie’s Bicycle to discuss the sustainability of rural touring. The group spent time discussing green touring initiatives, the sustainability of rural arts, the relevance of professional rural touring and what it might look like in 10 years. The outcome is an aim for a greater understanding of the potential for rural and green touring in England.

One of the top priorities of NRTF is advocacy on behalf of the sector. The visit was inspired by the appointment of NRTF Director, Holly Lombardo, the migration of its headquarters to the South East and the alignment of the ambitions of the sector with Arts Council England’s 10 Year Strategy consultation.

“Rural communities make up nearly 20% of the UK population. Rural touring not only contributes to local economic growth it increases wellbeing, confidence and a sense of belonging in communities. Nick Sertoas visit marks an important shift in the value given to rural arts, and we are delighted to be leading the discussion”. Holly Lombardo, Director – National Rural Touring Forum.

During the meeting Sir Nick stated how important networks like the NRTF are for supporting the sector, sharing resources and the distribution of data.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Touring is an essential means for many people across the country to experience great arts and culture, particularly those who live in rural areas. But at the same time, we must take into consideration the environmental impact of touring. These calculations are complex, but It was incredibly positive to hear that these questions are front of mind for organisations like the National Rural Touring Forum and its stakeholders. I hope that we will continue to raise the profile and importance of touring, balancing any environmental impact against the need for people who live in rural areas to have the opportunity to experience art and culture”

NRTF is an ACE National Portfolio Organisation supporting and promoting the importance of the rural arts and touring sector. With 30 member schemes, 1,650 promoting groups, 110,000 voluntary hours, 332,000 audience, over £1,000,000 box office sales this is a thriving sector, that via high-quality programming and commissioning, delivers community cohesion in rural settings and touring opportunities for performing companies.

Across the UK there are currently 30 NRTF member schemes who annually work with 1,650 promoting groups, undertaking 110,000 voluntary hours, putting on productions to 332,000 audience members, who spend over £1,000,000 in box office sales.

To hear more about rural touring, please visit our website –  www.ruraltouring.org and watch our film http://www.ruraltouring.org/work/rural-touring-advocacy-film

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