Northern Exposure – Canada’s Top Performers Tour the North 

The Northern Consortium of Touring Schemes are celebrating a ten year partnership with Canadian performing arts organisation Atlantic Presenters Association (APA) with tours by some of Canada’s finest acts.

From February to May this year, award-winning singer/songwriter Ian Sherwood, Theatre Newfoundland Labrador and comedian/performer Melody A Johnson will be performing in village halls and community centres as part of the Rural Touring Scheme’s ‘Canadian season’.

The APA welcomed Blaize and other schemes to its prestigious booking conference, ‘Contact East’, held in Novia Scotia last summer, where some of the country’s best acts were unveiled.   

The three Canadian performers will now tour with seven Rural Touring Schemes working together in the north including:

The Touring Schemes involved in the partnership have a long-standing history of collaborating on tours and special projects, working together to bring outstanding theatre, music, dance and more to rural communities across the north of England and the Midlands.

Thanks to this amazing partnership between the Northern Touring Schemes and the APA, over the past few years the NRTF has been able to showcase Canadian artists at conferences and invite Contact East representatives to come and talk about rural touring in Canada (including the possibility of meeting bears en route!).

Spokesman for the APA Laurie Gillies said: “Having Blaize attend Contact East and see showcasing artists is a huge opportunity for Canadian artists.” 

 “Tours booked with Blaize and other presenters in the Northern Rural Touring Scheme exposes artists to new audiences in new markets which is a fantastic career development opportunity.” 

The three acts will contribute to almost 50 gigs covering Northumberland, Durham, Cumbria, West Cumbria, Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and also Shropshire and Herefordshire.  

Laurie said: “Being able to bring unique artists to your community is what presenters do best. Exposing audiences to Canadian artists they might not otherwise get to see is exciting and important in the curatorial development of presenters.” 

The first to perform has been award-winning singer/songwriter Ian Sherwood.  

Sherwood is an established musician and story teller who has penned tunes for many other artists as well as for theatre, film and television.  

He started off the season on Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) in Cumbria  before performing at twenty venues right across the north including North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, and Teesdale before finishing up in Lancashire on March 15. Ian wrote us a blog post about his experience of rural touring in the UK and working with the NRTF and member Touring Schemes.

Next up is Theatre Newfoundland Labrador (TNL).

A theatre company which prides itself on reflecting the Canadian culture, TNL brings its latest production ‘With Cruel Times in Between’.

The show paints a picture of island life in Canada inspired by one of Newfoundland’s best love poets Al Pittman.

It will make its debut at Appleby Market Hall, Westmorland, on April 16, before touring a further thirteen venues across the north and north east, ending up in Leominster, Herefordshire on May 28.

Melody A Johnson is an award-winning actress, writer and comedian. She has numerous stage and film credits and will be showcasing her most recent act ‘Miss Caledonia’ which tells the story of a 1950s farm girl with ambitions to become a movie star.

Melody begins her tour in Blackburn, Lancashire on May 18 before moving on to perform at a further 13 venues across the north.

Exact Dates and venues for the full touring season are available on individual Scheme websites, using the links above.

The Canadian High Commission, impressed by the number of bookings offered to Canadian artists by the Touring Schemes and the resulting exposure to new audiences, have included information on the tours in their March Canada Plus bulletin.