Claire’s Rural Dance Story – A trip to Oslo to see Panta Rei

With the help of an NRTF dance bursary Claire Ayres of Beaford Arts went on a trip to Oslo to visit Panta Rei and to see their new piece – below is her report. Ian Scott from Artsreach also travelled and his review of the show can be read by NRTF members on the discussions pages here.

Claire Ayres in Oslo.

One normal Wednesday morning in early November an email from Claire Smith at the Rural Touring Dance Initiative flew into my inbox, ‘Urgent – opportunity to see some dance in Norway!’. ‘Yes! I thought, how can I make this happen?!’ Thanks to a Go and See Bursary from NRTF, an agreement by my Director, Mark Wallace, at Beaford Arts to treat this opportunity as CPD, and a very willing husband to manage our three kids at home, one week later I was sat on a plane whisking my way to Oslo, Norway, to spend 3 days with the fantastic company Panta Rei Danseteater.

The trip was a chance to attend the premiere of their new production, Promise of Departure – to experience their work on home soil, in a rural setting. From the information and images I’d seen before I left England I thought it would be an edgy, urban, gritty, dynamic, powerful and physically demanding piece.

At Beaford Arts, we had programmed Panta Rei’s Behind the Mirror last year, and had just hosted I Wish Her Well, along with the delivery of an incredible day of workshops with primary school children, higher education college performing arts students and community dancing school adults.

I’d already witnessed the technical ability of dancer Johnny Autin in Behind the Mirror, and as an advanced dancer myself had already participated in a 2 hour workshop with him last year, which was intense. My body truly hurt everywhere the day after!

So, I was naturally excited to be seeing him dance, along with two other professionals, and to be experiencing the Panta Rei cutting edge contemporary choreography in this intriguing new show Promise of Departure.

The Promise of Departure premiere was staged in a small town, one and half hours drive from Oslo, in the beautiful rural setting of Stange. Snow was on the ground, the air temperature -4 degrees C, but it didn’t stop Norwegian people venturing out to experience and support home grown contemporary dance.

The event commenced with an outdoor flash mob of students (pictured below) from the TILT educational programme linked to the Promise of Departure performance. (TILT is a multi year education and performance project involving hundreds of young people across Norway building new and sustainable dance communities.)

Outside in the darkness, carefully lit by staged lighting, students danced amongst the snowflakes to catchy music as the audience started to arrive. A converted caravan was also placed outside, transposing images of people standing nearby to upside down images to be seen in the dark room inside. The concept was about identity.

The audience entered the village hall type building into the holding space outside the performance room and as they handed over their tickets a professional dancer broke out into impromptu dance – transfixing the gathering audience. This was quite superb.

Once inside the small scale room, the audience of 80, much like the size of our rural touring network in the UK, sat on portable raked bench sitting areas on opposite sides of the room. The performance floor was then filled with 20 dancing school student participants between 13 and 18 years of age that had all been involved in the Panta Rei TILT programme. This was the curtain raiser. We were treated to absolutely excellent work, tight, a massive blow of energy, and it set us, the audience, up with an air of great anticipation for the imminent professional show.

Promise of Departure was all about vulnerability, identity, personal regrets, breakdowns and ultimately finding a positive way through.

The performance was in two halves. No props just clean, beautiful vertical white pieces of cloth hung along two sides of the room, the sides not occupied by an audience (pictured below).

The first half, choreographed by Anne Ekenes and Pia Holden, was about 3 personal stories. One was about a boy realising his identity and coming out. Another focused on the regret of not spending more time with a dying grandparent, the other about not having the bravery to leave a girlfriend and exit a relationship. The piece was energetic with lifts and throws and was generally fast paced. It was connecting. There was the occasional spoken word by the dancers in Norwegian, also Swedish, I think, and sometimes English, so for me there were understandably a few missed moments. (This will be changed to all three dancers speaking in English if it tours in the UK.) The underlying theme was undoubtedly Just Keep Dancing. It is our life blood, and enables us to get through.

The first piece ended with the same invigorating music we’d heard at the start being played once more, and everyone was encouraged to just get up and dance – and they did! We could all feel the energy and emotion between us all.

The second half, choreographed by a guest, Rachel Erdos from the UK, was much darker in nature. It had a relevance to the first piece but took us on a different journey. Trails of powdery chalk like substance was sprinkled onto the dance space as the dancers entered. The concept was migration. A journey of a people, and connecting with the world right now. The pieces showed times of breakdown, of despair and relevance to the Syrian refugees and camps in France.

Appropriate songs featured in the writing. The common English nursery rhyme, Row row row your boat, was a key part of the show, along with another song spoken in another language about sailing away with the wind. (This would be translated to English for a UK tour.)

Promise of Departure was an impactful performance, with relevant and thought provoking content. The technical ability and choreographical qualities were extremely high. It was dynamic to watch and gritty in its themes. Everything about the performance worked and was captivating. How the dancers managed to run and dance on a surface of powdery white flour like substance was mind-blowing at times.

This show is ideal for our UK rural touring set up. It would travel easily, isn’t demanding from a get in point of view, and as a dance piece of 60mins in length works well and holds concentration. Ideally it would suit secondary school age children and above, I feel.

I think it does need to be played to an audience mainly comprising of dance appreciation members.

Perhaps it is not the first choice for a new community where a scheme is building a new dance audience from scratch. However, saying that, Panta Rei always delivers a first rate experience of contemporary dance, so if this was marketed correctly, it might work. Panta Rei informed me that they had heard secondary school kids and the elderly say that they felt a deep connection with the piece and loved it. I look forward to Beaford Arts hopefully being able to host a couple of performances of Promise of Departure in the future.

One suggestion that springs to mind, to make this event even more consuming, is that I think that maybe the audience could have done with an explanation first. To have been given some pointers to look out for to help with the story telling so that people could follow and appreciate the dance elements. One to think about.

While I was in Oslo, I managed to visit other places of interest in the world of dance!

National Dance House, Oslo – Here I met the officers who produce the annual listings for the Norwegian dance companies for the national programmes. They had seen the English villages of Chulmleigh and Swimbridge on Panta Rei’s UK tour list, but could now put a face to a place/organisation and there was definitely more understanding!

The Cultural House in Hamar – This is where the premiere after show party was held (and, yes, I did receive an invite!). The House invested in the Panta Rei TILT education programme and Promise of Departure project as the organisation is a firm believer in the outreach work of dance in the surrounding rural villages, including Stange where the performance was held.

My tour of Oslo also included other multipurpose venues and rock gig spaces. The final stop off before my homeward bound travel was the Opera House in Oslo (pictured above). A distinctive building in the heart of city. After a precarious walk up the icy exterior of the building to the even more ‘venture at your own risk’ slippery roof, there was a blinding opportunity I just had to take. With the backdrop of the city of Oslo and the mountainous views, I staged a classic balletic pose – an arabesque. Snap! The photograph was taken! (Back at home, the dance school that I belong to has created a Scenic Photo Album. This photo, I thought, would make it to the top of the pile!) A pretty sensational moment which would sum up my whole dance adventure in Scandinavia. Here it is…

In essence, my research trip to Norway not only gave me a chance to watch and review Promise of Departure and analyse its potential for UK touring, but enabled me to meet and to have broad and useful conversations with Anne Ekenes, Artistic Director, Pia Holden, CEO, and Annika Ostwald, International Producer, of Panta Rei. We also had time to discuss potential exchange projects that I am working up, involving residencies with higher education colleges in UK and Norway and a working partnership with Panta Rei…watch this space!

I am so very grateful to all of the Panta Rei Company for a truly special time. In particular Annika who kindly hosted me in her central Oslo flat, drove me around and gave me a personal tour of the sites. I was looked after completely. It was also a pleasure to spend time with Ian and Katharine from Artsreach who were also visiting at the time. I absolutely loved my research trip. It was invaluable to spend time with this company to understand its way of working in its country, to gain awareness of its status in Norway and understand its international connections, and to be a part of a very exquisite premiere on its home turf.

Hope I get a chance to go again! NRTF and the RTDI…THANK YOU!

My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding set to hit the road again

Following a successful application to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding will tour again in Autumn 2016.

A co-production between Kali Theatre and two rural touring schemes, Black Country Touring and Arts Alive, the show invites audiences to the wedding reception of rural girl Claire to city boy Arjun. With a cast of comic characters brilliantly portrayed by four actors, the show is a fast moving comedy drama full of misunderstanding and mishaps, with plenty of neat twists and a Bhangra dance for everyone to join in at the end.

Based on real people’s experience of mixed marriages or rural weddings attended by city dwellers out of their comfort zone, My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding is a fun, light-hearted exploration of relationships across the divides of rural/urban, race and gender.

Chris Corner, General Manager of Kali Theatre, said: “the idea for My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding was first thought up in informal discussions at a NRTF conference. The day’s discussions and the convivial atmosphere inspired some creative and collaborative thinking.

An excerpt from the show was performed at this year’s NRTF conference in Norfolk, to rave reviews from delegates.

Arts Alive and Black Country Theatre worked together to commission the touring show, specially conceived for rural and small-scale community venues and audiences. In its initial tour in September 2014, My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding played to over 2,000 audience members across the UK in 24 shows, most of which sold out. The new tour, to take place between 29th September and 6th November next year, will reach 2,000 people in rural areas in the North, Midlands, South East and South West.

Director of the show, Janet Steel said “I am delighted that this funding will enable us to take My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding to many more rural venues across the country. The response to the show on last year’s tour was so fantastic; people dressed up, wore their best hats and gumboots, made wedding cakes and had a great evening out. Many of the venues had to squeeze in extra chairs to cope with the demand. I am sure we will create the same buzz again next year.”

If you can’t wait until next year, here’s an invitation to the wedding that gives you a taste of what to expect.

Family Arts Conference 2017

We’d like to let you know about the Family Arts Campaign’s national Conference taking place on Weds 15 March 2017 at St George’s Bristol and the Watershed. 

March 2017 will see the return of the UK’s largest and most successful conference focusing on engaging families with culture. Arts professionals of all art forms, from across the UK will come together in Bristol to share learning and innovative practice, reflect on their experiences, and network at our biennial Family Arts Conference. The Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley will be joining to welcome delegates to Bristol. Key themes of the Conference include: 

  • UK & international perspectives on welcoming older people as part of the family experience
  • New insights on arts-based approaches to inclusion and diversity
  • Findings from new research on family audiences and participation from Arts Council England and others
  • Exciting new developments announced on the Family Arts Campaign’s plans to support the sector 

About the Family Arts Campaign

The Family Arts Campaign is a major national collaborative programme led by the arts sector to increase levels of arts engagement by families and is supported by Arts Council England and Arts Council of Wales. The Family Arts Campaign was established in 2012 to increase the amount and range of high quality artistic work for families, improve the quality of experience for families experiencing arts and culture, and improve marketing to reach more and diverse family audiences.

Visit for full details.

White Open Spaces – Podcast Series





Podcast Series: 5 December – 10 December 2016

Pentabus, the nation’s rural theatre company joins forces with Eclipse Theatre Company, Britain’s principal Black-led national touring company, to produce White Open Spaces: 2006 – 2016. A series of podcasts about race and racism in the countryside. Originally produced as a reaction to Trevor Phillips’ provocation that there was a ‘cultural apartheid’ in the countryside, ten years on this podcast series retells three of the original stories and offers three new perspectives on the state of society today. Post-Brexit and Pre-Trump what is our national identity? What does it mean to belong to a place if that place might not want you to belong to it?

Written by six world-class writers including Lorna French (Winner, Alfred Fagon Award 2016), Leah Chillery and Testament, as part of Eclipse’s Revolution Mix initiative that aims to challenge inequality in theatre, radio and digital media. Performed by a star cast including Jade Anouka (Julius Caesar, Donmar Warehouse), Susan Brown (Angels in America, National Theatre), Alisha Bailey (Raisin in the Sun, Eclipse), Richie Campbell (NW, BBC), Larrington Walker (RSC, ETT) and Testament, the Guinness World Record beatboxing champion.

Sharp, funny and provocative, these six voices tell us the state of the nation today – a must listen experience. Released daily at 5.00pm via the Pentabus and Eclipse websites from 05 December 2016.Podcast Listings
Completely See-Through by Francesca Beard
Performed by Jade Anouka

Black Peter Pan by Leah Chillery 

Performed by Larrington Walker

You Say by Lorna French

Performed by Alisha Bailey

A Question of Courage by Courttia Newland

Performed by Richie Campbell

Joy’s Prayer by Ian Merchant

Performed by Susan Brown

Jerusalem by Testament

Performed by Testament

White Open Spaces: 2006 – 2016 was directed by Elizabeth Freestone and Dawn Walton

Desmond’s Rural Touring Story

Back in July 2016, through Night Out rural touring scheme in Wales, Neuadd Dyfi hosted circus theatre company Circo Rum Ba Ba and their show “L’Hotel”. Here, promoter Desmond George explains the circumstances that led to booking the show along with some fantastic images from the day…

(All Images in this post are taken by Keith Morris, provided by Night Out)

Promoter Des George with Circo Rum Ba Ba

We had a delightful evening with L’Hotel in the Neuadd Dyfi this July. A super Audience of all ages locals and holiday makers but that isn’t the story. The story is about how they came to entertain us…

In spring 2015 I was invited by ACW Night Out scheme to attend the NRTF conference in Norfolk, thoroughly good fun and an eye-opener to what was out there. So much to see and sample and easy to miss something . I was just going to get afternoon tea and Stickies’ when Peter Gregory prodded me (metaphorically) have a look at L’Hotel. Foregoing a cream doughnut I joined a small but spirited audience outside and in a 15 minute showcase a seed was sown.

Time rolls on…spring 2016 looking for a midsummer show…the notion of L’Hotel surfaced, emails back and forth possible dates agreed. Then the question what size are your stage doors? What size is the apparatus that forms L’Hotel? Emails back and forth, confusion over centimetres, millimetres, inches, meters, what are you measuring? There seemed to be a tenth of a millimetre between a positive and negative outcome that it would work or not. To avoid any doubt I cut a rod the exact size of our stage door and popped it in the post 48inches and 6mm long…conclusion…it won’t work.

Circo Rum Ba Ba on stage with the set that almost didn’t fit in the venue

Two weeks later, mulling my disappointment with a colleague, the question why not bring it in this way was posed. What way? This way. Through the garden, through double doors, up a flight of steps, through double doors 2, across our studio, through double doors 3, across the corridor, through double doors 4 and onto the stage. Out with the measuring stick and conclusion yes it will work. More emails back and forth and booking made!

On the day, a team to provide the muscle, a simple block and tackle, scaffolding boards, poles, and an operation similar to the Earls Court Military tattoo gun carriage all went like clockwork.

A sell-out audience enjoying the show at Neuadd Dyfi

So an observation on points of Value

– NRTF conferences providing invaluable opportunities to see showcased samples and speak to like-minded individuals

– Night Out and similar schemes to give a financial cushion and structured support

– Being creative in finding solutions to make it all work

And one more thing…. did I mention L’Hotel was jolly good fun?

Find a selection of further images in the gallery attached to this story or find the full album on the Night Out Facebook page.

A day in the life of a rural touring promoter.

Farnham Maltings Launch is a free resource for companies and artists to post listings about their tour-ready productions, and for bookers to easily search for shows for their programme.

Launched on Thursday 4th November the site already features over 100 live tour listings available to book by users.

The new digital resource is delivered by Farnham Maltings, who are also responsible for the management of house (the south east touring and audience development initiative) and caravan (an initiative to encourage England-based theatre makers to think and work internationally).

Given the numerous challenges facing the touring sector, is one way in which Farnham Maltings hope to make touring and booking productions more efficient and contribute to ensuring a sustainable, vibrant touring sector across England.

The site aims to improve touring in England and make it easier for programmers to find work for their seasons. Prorgammers can search by genre, dates and region to find the latest relevant touring work in seconds. And artists will be able to add their listing simply through an online portal in minutes.

Intended to help artists book further reaching tours and programmers to fill the last few slots in their season, operates like a shop window, featuring listings of current tours available to book. To encourage best practice, each listing will feature content on target audiences, accessibility and technical specifications, alongside other common content such as press and film footage. Every listing will have a shelf-life of eight weeks and can be renewed three times, meaning that content will be kept fresh and current.

Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings said about the launch “ is not a replacement for the sheer graft of booking a tour. Our hope is that tour-finder will make it slightly easier for programmers to find what work is touring when and for companies to add to their existing dates, perhaps finding extra dates to make a tour more viable or to introduce venues new to their work”

The site has already been visited by 100’s of arts professionals. The platform is supported by Arts Council England and it will continue to develop as more users utilise the resource.

Dance Lab – a Rural Touring Scheme Perspective

In October artists, companies and touring schemes involved in the Rural Touring Dance Initiative were brought together for 3 days in Somerset to explore the practicalities of rural touring, spend time with local voluntary promoters in village halls and exchange ideas. Karen Kidman of Creative Arts East reflects on the experience:

I was very grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the Lab for the Rural Touring Dance Initiative for several reasons:

• Creative Arts East have historically found it incredibly difficult to programme dance on our scheme, for various reasons including cost, space requirements and our promoter’s view that it is ‘difficult to sell’.
• As a programmer, my experience, knowledge and understanding of dance is also very limited.
• Finding the right work and the right artists to work with these and other constraints has been very difficult.

It felt very important for Creative Arts East and me personally that we were not only part of this scheme to take advantage of some of these historical issues being addressed, but also that we became very involved in the process and were able to feed into the conversations and development with artists, even if at times I may have been a bit of a provocateur in the room.

Participating artists exploring Dulverton Town Hall

The schedule for the Lab was intensive and very thorough. I felt every aspect of rural touring was covered in detail and artists were given the chance to respond, question and challenge throughout.   It was great to see these practitioners exploring a village hall and all of its quirks in a really positive way.

It was clear by the end of the second day that the reality was setting in and some were starting to feel a little overwhelmed with what they might have to consider. However, this was balanced by some excellent presentations from Pretty Good Girl Dance Theatre and Spilt Milk who also portrayed the many benefits and positives that this work can offer.

I was filled with confidence and really impressed with how the enthusiasm and commitment from the dance companies to the project did not waver.  Instead, by the final day, the questions became more specific and ideas and potential solutions seemed more prevalent.

In conclusion, the Lab was a very positive and progressive experience.   I found myself far more enthused to go and see more dance productions myself and with an increased confidence in programming and communicating dance to promoters.

NRTF awarded ACE research grant

The NRTF are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded a research grant of £156,202 by Arts Council England.

The grant is for a two-year research project with Coventry University which seeks to investigate the individual and community benefits of rural touring arts, a relatively under-researched area. It will provide a national, evidence-based, assessment of the rural geography of arts participation and impact. The project will have a longitudinal focus examining the cumulative impact of rural touring activities through time. A range of both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ impacts will be investigated, including sense of community, place identify, confidence, well-being, social isolation and direct and indirect economic impacts.

More detailed information on the project will be announced at a later date.

Rural Arts North Yorkshire- Diverse Rural Touring Project

Expression of Interest Application

Rural Arts North Yorkshire is inviting expressions of interest for a performance company to partner on a three-year project that supports BAME/culturally diverse performance companies to rurally tour on a yearly basis, from 2017 to 2020.

Deadline for submission of expression of interest to – 26th October 2016

Download full details and the application form here.


Rural Arts is a National Portfolio Organisation based at The Courthouse in Thirsk North Yorkshire, a community venue that programmes a range of workshops and performances; in 1999 the charity established ON Tour, the rural touring scheme for North Yorkshire and East Cleveland. ON Tour brings high quality music, dance and theatre to rural communities through its network of 300 volunteer promoters.

In 2013 Rural Arts received funding from Arts Council England to deliver a Strategic Touring project, the Create Tour. The project’s inception was an innovative participatory youth project offering personal and social development as well as transferable skills to 180 deprived and isolated young people through residencies and touring opportunities with professional companies. The initial project demonstrated participatory and wrap-around activities success in encouraging new and current audiences to attend more challenging programming (e.g. modern dance) and this led to Rural Arts redeveloping the project to solely be delivered by diverse-led companies. The updated model has been developed to deliver five key outcomes: to diversify programming, upskill promoters, increase companies’ capacities, develop new audiences, and provide young people with performing art opportunities.

Rural Touring Project, 2017-2020

The Create Tour project is nine youth residencies over three years, where a group of young people spends four days working with a performance company to develop a short piece. The group then tours this as an opening act for the companies’ four tour dates as part of the Rural Arts ON Tour Scheme. Over the three years, three companies will rotate delivery in three targeted areas: East Cleveland, Richmondshire and Ryedale. Tamasha Theatre and RJC Dance are confirmed as two of the delivery partners.

In partnership with Black Theatre Live and Tara Arts, Rural Arts will support the successful culturally diverse performance company to tour rurally and be the final delivery partner for the project. Performance companies will receive yearly support through events, mentoring and advice.

Performance companies will be shortlisted using the following criteria:

  • The quality of the proposed production
  • The relevancy of the production for rural audiences
  • The accessibility of the content- performances must have a wider context and interest non-theatre goers
  • The logistics of the production to tour to village hall venues
  • Experience of delivering youth projects and workshops

Further Information

  • Performance companies must express an interest in rural touring to Rural Arts partner venues in North Yorkshire and other rural touring schemes
  • Companies must share a commitment to meet the Create Tour projects aims and objectives
  • Applications are exclusively open to BAME artists and/or BAME companies
  • Proposed touring performances may be new work or re-tours of existing shows
  • Performance companies must demonstrate a clear plan to be ready to tour a production in October 2017
  • Performance companies must have demonstrable skills of working with young people to create a performance and evidence of delivering an educational programme


  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a budget, which should consider the following costs- four workshop days, five performances over four days during the tour week and be inclusive of accommodation and travel costs
  • Companies will be allocated a yearly budget that will be agreed with the successful applicant
  • If a performance requires further funding to tour, companies must already have this in place to guarantee involvement, the project budget will only cover delivery costs of the outlined project
  • Must consider ‘future life’ of the tour and potential opportunity to tour to other rural areas

Audience Development & Marketing

  • The company must consider how the production relates to and is supported by the Audience Development elements including the annual youth residencies
  • The company must attend community engagement events as part of the project; these events will take place during the workshop week at partner venues
  • To support promoter development, companies will be invited to attend showcasing events throughout the life of the project, this will include meeting venues and performing extracts of shows
  • Companies will be supported by the Create Tour Audience Development Plan and programme
  • Companies must be committed to supporting promoters to fully market performances by thorough information and phone support when required
  • Companies must provide high quality marketing material for each venue
  • Companies must be committed to attending evaluation and project planning meetings when required Touring
  • To tour as a part of the ON Tour scheme on a yearly basis from 2017 to 2020
  • The tour will include five performances over four days: touring to two village halls, one market town and two performances at a partner school (including a matinee and evening performance)
  • The tour will be coordinated by Rural Arts Youth Residencies
  • To deliver one youth residency per year, each project will be attended by a maximum of 20 participants
  • The workshop week will take place at a youth centre in the targeted area
  • Workshop and tour dates are dictated by North Yorkshire school half-term schedules
  • Recruitment and logistical details will be coordinated by Rural Arts

Time Frame

  • Deadline for submission of expression of interest to – 26th October 2016
  • Shortlisted proposals informed – 28th October 2016
  • Shortlisted applicants will be asked to submit a budget by the 4th November 2016
  • Pitching Day at Tara Arts Theatre – 16th November 2016
  • Project begins in 2017; project delivery for the successful company will take place in October 2017 over two weeks, this is planned around North Yorkshire school half-term schedules
  • The proposed three year partnership offered to the successful performance company will be subject to a yearly review process

All applicants are advised to contact Rural Arts prior to applying to discuss the project in further detail.
Lead contact: Sophie Backhouse, ON Tour Manager


P: 01845 526536

Rural Arts, The Courthouse, Westgate, Thirsk, YO7 1QS

Charity Registration number: 10810073

Group of young people involved in the create tour in the past.

Lauren’s rural dance story

Lauren Tucker is a dance development artist with Cheshire Dance. Here she tells us about the work she is currently doing with the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) and Cheshire Rural Touring Arts (CRTA). 

As a dance development artist, I have a part to play in the accountability for promoting engagement in dance. I also have a strong passion for audience development in Cheshire and beyond. The Rural Touring Dance Initiative, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts and Cheshire Dance are working closely to reach and to strategically develop audiences in rural Cheshire. This joined up way of working is opening up some exciting opportunities for dance engagement in Cheshire to thrive.

I am extremely excited about this prospect. Seeing live performance work informed my own decision to progress to a career in dance. It sounds so simple but that is all that it can take for a young person to be inspired to engage, or to deepen their engagement in the arts. I love that we are continuing to change our ways so that dance has alternative platforms to live and to reach diverse audiences outside of cities.

This year CRTA have programmed a menu of dance work that appeals to a wide range of people, whilst at the same time encouraging dance venues in rural spaces to take risks. These shows have been facilitated by ‘Dance Across The North’ and The Rural Touring Dance Initiative.  It is not about artistic compromise, the challenge is finding work that is suitable for this audience and getting to know the audience so we can make effective decisions. I am working in partnership with CRTA to promote this work . I am finding it a very exciting approach to audience development.

We are currently looking at the next menu. In the summer, I was invited to attend the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a dance promotor for rural touring to review work. This opportunity was made possible via a ‘Go and See’ Bursary from the RTDI.  I have been attending the fringe in a number of contexts for several years, and it is always wonderfully refreshing to see a wide scope of dance work . Considerations for the work that we present in Cheshire are deeply embedded in strategic thinking, and the celebration of diversity. The visit to Edinburgh allowed me to make further connections with professionals working in the sector, which will lead to further conversations for joined up working approaches to the process of dance development.