International Villages of Culture

The International Village of Culture conference & showcase festival took place in Durham City and in village halls in the South West of County Durham the between 31st March & 4th April 2009



NRTF's aims for the event were to:

  • Debate the issues of rural touring at an international level
  • Explore international work suitable for touring in rural areas and show extracts from the Northern Touring Schemes' International Commissions
  • Present an International Festival of Rural Touring - a four day showcase of international work in villages in the Wear Valley and Teesdale districts of County Durham
  • Learn about the practicalities of programming international artists
  • Have lots of opportunities to network


In 2005 the NRTF board outlined elements for developing international aspirations for the organisation and committed to prioritise internationalism in its 5-year business plan alongside diversity and participative work. NRTF takes part in the ACE / ietm (international network for contemporary performing arts) networking project and is developing an emerging relationship with Visiting Arts.

Following research and consultation with key organisations including Arts Council, Culture10, Visiting Arts and ietm, NRTF is now developing the international and intercultural aspirations in the business plan with a strategic 2-year programme of work which started in September 2007 entitled International Village of Culture.

The International Village of Culture project is designed to begin the process of placing the issues of rural communities and artists working with those communities alongside the notion of International work. There are 4 areas NRTF wishes to explore:

  • Encouraging confidence amongst rural and community promoters and audiences to work with international artists
  • Capitalise and build upon best practice that exists on the rural touring circuit
  • Making international artists and organisations aware of the possibilities of rural touring
  • Looking at how rural communities and artists working with those communities can participate and benefit from opportunities presented by initiatives such as European Capitals of Culture and the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The results of this project will inform long-term thinking about engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in international arts activities and developing volunteer arts promoters' confidence in this area.