Over 700 Nominations received across six categories celebrating every aspect of the sector
Image credit: Tom Middleton
The National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) has announced the shortlist for the first ever awards celebrating rural touring in the UK. Over 700 individuals nominated productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff for the award (please find the shortlist below). The shortlist will now go before an independent judging panel comprising Guardian journalist Lyn Gardner, writer and researcher Francois Matarasso, Ed Collier of independent producing studio China Plate and Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of The Woodland Trust. Judges will be looking for brilliant stories, examples of good, enthusiastic and dedicated practice and forward-looking work.
Categories are focused on the key areas of rural touring success: the most welcoming village halls and community venues, the best promoters (many of whom are volunteers), the most supportive touring schemes, the best new individuals and companies in the sector, and the most innovative and inspirational shows.
The NRTF Special Award was open to all nominations with the judges looking for an amazing story from the world of rural touring – and the nominees reflect long term engagement with specific local communities which have been valued over many years: Christine Smith, a promoter for the Night Out scheme since 2002, Duncan MacInnes, Artistic Director of SEALL for the last 26 years, and recently retired Director of Artreach, Ian Scott.
Nominations across all categories were made by audiences (who made around 55% of nominations), as well as touring scheme staff, artists and promoters. Audience numbers in 2015/16 were in excess of 332,000 across NTRF shows, and since the first Nation Rural Touring Forum figures in 2006/07 there has been an increase in audience numbers of 26%, reflecting a huge increase in the amount of work that is reaching and being enjoyed by rural audiences, which requires the support of the local schemes that make up the NTRF.
Director and NRTF board member Elizabeth Freestone said, “We are delighted by the number of nominations that we received for our first ever rural touring awards. It shows the interest and enthusiasm that exists amongst audiences, promoters, touring schemes and artists for this area of work. It's thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteer promoters, of hard-working performers, of committed touring schemes and of loyal audiences that rural touring is vibrant and thriving. The RTAs will allow us to publicly show gratitude to those individuals who have made a real difference to a community over the past year.”
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 will take place on 28 th June at Nottingham University at the NRTF annual conference. Further details on the shortlist can be downloaded here: https://www.ruraltouring.org/resources/rural-touring- awards-shortlist- announced
Full list of Nominees:
Rural Touring NewcomerLila Dance, South EastTony Leonard, Landlord of Roebuck Inn in Laughton and The Snowdrop Inn in Lewes, SussexHannah Prior, Arts Alive Board member and co-director of I-gnition, Shropshire
Best PromoterSue Cottam – Bradworthy Village Hall, DevonDes George – Neuadd Dyfi, WalesRebecca Smith – Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon
Most innovative and/or inspirational showThe Deluge – Lila Dance, South East,Paradise Lost (Lies unopen beside me) – Lost Dog, South EastLabels – Worklight Theatre, South West
Most Supportive Touring SchemeArts Alive – Shropshire and HerefordshireCarn to Cove – CornwallHighlights Rural Touring Scheme – Cumbria, County Durham, Northumberland
Most Welcoming Village HallFelton Village Hall – NorthumberlandMelbourne Assembly Rooms – DerbyshireQuatt Village Hall – Shropshire
NRTF Special AwardDuncan MacInnes, Artistic Director – SEALL, Isle of SkyeIan Scott, Director – Artreach, DorsetChristine Smith, Promoter – Night Out Wales