Shortlist announced for second annual Rural Touring Awards

Winners to be announced at a ceremony on 27th June by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan

The National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) has announced the shortlist for Rural Touring Awards to celebrate rural touring in the UK. Over 350 individuals nominated artists, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff for awards (please find the shortlist below).

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at Worcester University held on 27th June during the NRTF’s New Directions showcase. The presentation will be made by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan (BBC Radio 3’s The Verb), a strong supporter of rural arts who recently penned a special poem for the NRTF commemorating Village Halls Week.

Following the success of the inaugural awards in 2017 which were given at the NRTF conference and saw dance company Lost Dog and rural touring scheme staff and volunteers around the UK win for outstanding practice, the NRTF has decided the awards will be held annually in a ceremony celebrating rural touring and those who make it happen.

Nominations across five categories were made by audiences, touring scheme staff, artists and promoters. The introduction of a new Music Performance category for the first time this year recognises the quantity and quality of live music on the rural touring circuit and is distinct from the Stage Performance of the Year Award, which covers achievement in theatre, dance, spoken word or comedy. Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year will reward outstanding examples of partnership working, whether in commissioning artists, seeking sponsors or audience development.

In making the awards, judges will be looking for examples of excellent and dedicated practice and innovative and forward-looking work. The NRTF special award is open to all – from touring schemes and volunteers to artists or touring companies – and seeks to recognise an individual or a group who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of rural touring.

Music Performance of the year
Apphia Campbell – Black Is The Color of My Voice
Clive Carroll – A Thousand Years of Music
Whalebone – UK Tour

Stage Performance of the Year

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Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunnit – Rob Gee
The Chef Show – Ragged Edge
The Deep – 10ft Tall Theatre

Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year
Beyond the End of the Road – Highlights rural touring scheme (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham) and November Club working together to create and tour a site-specific musical
Common Lore – Solo storytelling show created via a collaboration between Spot On Lancashire, Cheshire Rural Touring, Lancashire Libraries and Sophia Hatfield.
Inn Crowd – An initiative enabling rural pubs to host spoken word-inspired live performance led by touring schemes Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich and Pub Is The Hub.

Voluntary promoter of the Year
Christine Reilly – Creative Arts East (Norfolk, Suffolk and the East)
Janet Wood – Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)
Mike Greener – Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)

Young Person of The Year
Crystal Zillwood (Dance Artist – Devon)
Forest Young Promoters – Arts in Rural Gloucestershire
Hannah Wood (Technical Stage Manager, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire)

The shortlist will now go before an independent judging panel comprising Deborah Clarke (Action with Communities in Rural England ACRE), playwright Sayan Kent, Reviews Editor and Joint Chief Critic for The Stage, Natasha Tripney and rural touring promoter Des George, winner of last year’s Best Promoter award.

Speaking about the awards, NRTF Director Holly Lombardo said “The Rural Touring Awards raise the profile of professional arts and performance taking place in Rural locations across the UK. Its aim is to recognise the hard work, energy, passion and dedication those involved in this lively and growing sector have.”

Ian McMillan said “’I’m proud to be part of these awards that celebrate the makers of the dynamic arts renaissance that’s sweeping the country, realigning our idea of what true centres of excellence can be and can become. All hail the village hall! All hail rural touring!’
Rural touring is a growing sector of the UK’s arts industry with NRTF figures indicating that audience numbers attending shows in village halls and at outdoor rural events have increased 26% since 2006/7.

RuralTAwards | @ruraltouring | #ruraltouring |

Notes to editors

Rural Touring Awards
The 2018 awards cover activity which has taken place between Spring 2017-Spring 2018. Further information on award categories and eligibility can be found here:

Those eligible to submit nominations for the awards can do so here:

The shortlisted nominees will be invited to attend the award ceremony on 27th June at Worcester University as part of the New Directions showcase. New Directions (26-28 June) is a bi-annual showcase of contemporary performance available for rural touring curated by independent producing studio China Plate.

About the NRTF
The 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. Across the UK there are currently 33 NRTF member schemes and over 1,500 promoting groups showing live work to approximately 250,000 people in rural communities each year.