‘A Teapot As Big As The Moon’ written by Ian McMillan for Village Halls Week

The NRTF working with ACRE National commission Ian McMillan to write a new poem for Village Halls Week 2018. Ian is always a fantastic supporter of Rural Communities, and will also be reading the poem and discussing art in rural communities on Local BBC Radio Stations across the country today (Jan 24th). To download the poem as a printable graphic click on the link in the ‘Downloads’ box to the right, or watch Ian reading the poem himself in the video below.

Here is the centre and here is the hub
Here is community held in a room,
Here’s the big gig and the loud Zumba Club
And here is a teapot as big as the moon
Here is a teapot as big as the moon!

Here is a place at the heart of the map
Here is a song with a crowd-friendly tune
Here’s a child’s bonnet, a pensioner’s cap
And here is a teapot as big as the moon
Here is a teapot as big as the moon!

Here is the village: its hopes and its dreams
Here’s a bright light that pierces the gloom
Here is a space that’s much more than it seems
And here is a teapot as big as the moon
Here is a teapot as big as the moon!

Here is the future in these tightened times
Here is a voice that says ‘come back, and soon’
Here is a noticeboard brimming with signs
And here is a teapot as big as the moon
Here is a teapot as big as the moon!

This is the village hall, open the doors!
This is the root and the sap and the bloom!
This is utopia with cutlery drawers!
And this is the teapot as big as the moon
This is the teapot as big as the moon!

From Art classes to Zumba: Village Halls Week celebrates rural culture

  • 22-26 Jan declared #VillageHallsWeek by Action with Communities in Rural England  
  • Writer and broadcaster Ian McMillan offers support with specially written poem 
  • National Rural Touring Forum partners to highlight cultural events

The rich variety of activities that take place in village halls and the volunteers that support them are to be celebrated this January in the first ever #VillageHallsWeek. Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and their 38 member organisations will use the week to celebrate the diverse network of 10,000 community buildings at the heart of England’s rural communities and the volunteers who work tirelessly to keep them open for all.

To mark the occasion, renowned poet, writer and radio presenter Ian McMillan has written a brand-new poem. In his inimitable style, McMillan’s A Teapot as Big as the Moon highlights some of the cultural events that village halls often host, from gigs to dance classes. The poem was commissioned by the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF), the membership organisation for rural touring schemes which work with volunteers in halls across the country to bring professional performance art – from theatre to dance to magic to music – to rural audiences.

Other activities being staged by NRTF members during the week include performances of wartime drama Think of England in Sixpenny Handley Village Hall in Dorset and a gig by Welsh folk trio Alaw at Bulkington Community Centre in the West Midlands. These events are typical of those staged by NRTF members at halls all over the countryside every week. 

Richard Quallington, Executive Director of ACRE said “Starting 2018 with a celebration of these wonderful hubs, which offer so much to their local community, is a fantastic way to start the year. Residents in rural communities rely on local availability of services such as childcare, health services, social meetings and entertainment – village halls host all such services. They are flexible, multi-use community spaces which have stood the test of time and saying thank you to the volunteers who keep them going is the least we can do. Please do join in with #VillageHallsWeek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and celebrate your local hall and show them your appreciation.”

Speaking about their support for #VillageHallsWeek Tom Speight from NRTF and a village hall chair himself, said “They may sometimes be a bit below the radar but village halls really matter to local communities. They bring people together to share, be it watching a fantastic performance or using the local post office or keeping fit with a Zumba class. NRTF is delighted to support #VillageHallsWeek and fully endorses the ACRE Network messages of celebration and thanks that rural communities can access such versatile community assets locally.”
#Villagehallsweek (22-26 Jan) is an initiative started by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), the national voice for the country’s largest rural network, formed of 52,000 grassroots organisations in 11,000 rural communities.


Opportunity for radio stations:
Ian McMillan will be based at BBC Radio Sheffield, available for interview and to read his poem on Wednesday 24 January. If you would be interested in doing a live broadcast for #VillageHallsWeek, or a pre-record for another show during the week please contact Chris Cowcher at ACRE to arrange a time slot. Ian’s schedule will be limited and interviews will be granted on a first come first served basis.

Social media accounts:
#VillageHallsWeek on Twitter via @VillageHalls_Wk  #VillageHallsWeek on Facebook via @ACRE_National  #VillageHallsWeek on Instagram via @acrenational

Contact details:
National #VillageHallsWeek Contact: Chris Cowcher, ACRE Community Manager c.cowcher@acre.org.uk or 01285 653477  National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF): Elin Morgan, Mobius PR, elin@mobiusindustries.com or 0203 195 6269

Notes to editors:
• ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is the national body for the 38 ACRE Network members. We speak up for rural communities on the national stage and deliver projects that enable our communities to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face http://www.acre.org.uk/  • The National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) 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 https://www.ruraltouring.org/ The most recent figures available demonstrate that in a 12 month period over 330,000 people watched over 2,750 shows in 1,600 venues across the country, with box office value to the rural economy of just over £1million.

Rural Touring Dance Initiative 2 (RTDI 2) – 3rd Menu announced!

Following the announcement of a second strategic touring award to develop and support dance in the rural touring sector NRTF and partners  The Place, China Plate and Take Art are delighted to announce that the brand new Menu 3 is now available to schemes and promoters !

12th January saw the launch of RTDI Menu 3 – the first of 3 Menu’s for RTDI 2 featuring some of the most dynamic and charismatic contemporary dance companies in the Uk.

The majority of these companies have honed their Rural Touring experience over previous tours and we are delighted to see them back as part of  Menu 3.

They are Lost Dog, bgroup, Phoenix Dance Theatre, James Wilton Dance, Lila Dance, Joan Cleville Dance and Uchenna Dance.

They are joined by Corali, Shane Shambhu and Tom Dale Dance.

Rural Touring Schemes now have until 19th February to register their expressions of interest.

More information and a download of Menu 3 is available in the dance section of “Our Work” – https://www.ruraltouring.org/work/rural-touring-dance

Fantastic Fundraising Film from Arts Alive and Highlights

Highlights and Arts Alive are working together to raise awareness of rural touring and inform audiences of  the different ways in which they can donate to support the fantastic events  happening in village halls.  The work has been made possible by a joint award from the Arts Council Catalyst Evolve programme which matches £1 for £1 every donation we receive.

Ten Companies Dance into Rural Village Halls

Dance treats from the Rural Dance Touring Initiative sees returning favourites and new offerings in rural villages

bgroup, Point Of Echoes 9 Feb – 17 Mar
Splitmilk, The Little Love Cabaret14 Feb – 10 May
Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, May Contain Food – May Contain You 23 Feb – 28 Mar
Keira Martin, Here Comes Trouble 2 – 3 Mar
Lost Dog, Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) 
8 – 17 Mar
Just Us Dance Theatre, It’s Between Us 9 – 16 Mar
Joan Clevillé Plan B For Utopia 23 – 24 Mar
James Wilton, Last Man Standing 13 – 24 Apr
Hiccup, May-We-Go-Round 26 Apr
Curious Seed Chalk About 11 May – 1 Jun

Continuing to bring new and adapted dance work to village halls and other small rural venues across the UK often unreached by touring arts companies, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) is serving up a feast of performances with ten dance companies in Spring 2018. The National Rural Touring Forum’s (NRTF) three-year dance focused scheme – which has now been extended for another three years – served up its first ‘menu’ of work to regional touring schemes in 2016, and their Spring programme is a continuation of their second menu which started last Autumn.

Point of Echoes by bgroup is the first new work commissioned by the RTDI, especially for the rural touring circuit. Set on an unnamed lighthouse, at an unknown time, somewhere on the coast of England, Point of Echoes is created by renowned UK choreographer Ben Wright and musician and writer Stuart Warwick. After performances in RTDI’s second menu in Autumn 2017, it receives a full tour this Spring.

Other shows continuing to tour with RTDI from last Autumn include James Wilton Dance’s Last Man Standing based on Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero, Here Comes Trouble choreographed by Keira Martin and directed by Charlotte Vincent, Just Us Dance Theatre’s It’s Between Us, and The Hiccup Project with May – We – Go – Round.

From the first menu of work presented in Autumn 2016, three favourites will return to RTDI: Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, May Contain Food, May Contain You, a witty dance and music production encouraging audiences to bring their own locally produced food to the theatre and consider the sensory, cultural and social implications of food, Joan Clevillé’s Plan B for Utopia about how creativity and imagination can change the world, and Lost Dog’s Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) which won the Most Innovative/Inspirational Show at the inaugural Ticketsource National Rural Touring Forum Awards in June.

Two brand shows to tour RTDI this spring are The Little Love Cabaret from Spiltmilk is a scrapbook of real-life love stories from contributors aged 2 – 93 from across the country. Somewhere between a sketch show, dance performance, confessional, and a gushing love letter, Spiltmilk Dance rejoice in all things that make life brilliant. Finally, Chalk About from Curious Seed turns the stage into a gigantic chalkboard to explore the nature of identity.

Speaking about the tours, Claire Smith, Project Manager of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative said We have been delighted with the response to our fabulous cohort of companies in this our 2nd RTDI Menu – companies new to Rural Touring and those returning for a second time are very excited by the reaction of audiences. We have seen audiences new to dance returning to see more – they liked it so much first time round!”

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is an ongoing scheme which has recently been extended until 2021 for making and touring dance performances to and for rural areas. Made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery-funded Strategic Touring Programme, the initiative is led by National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF), which joined with dance institution The Place, arts charity Take Art and independent producing studio China Plate to deliver the scheme.

@rural_dance | #ruraldance | www.ruraltouring.org

Listings information
Please note dates may be subject to change, please contact local schemes for confirmed details

bgroup, Points of Echoes 

Live and Local  Friday 9th Feb – Saturday 10th Feb
Night Out Wales Thursday 15th Feb
Wiltshire, Rural Arts Friday 16th Feb
Carn to Cove, Cornwall Weds 21st Feb  – Saturday 24th Feb (no performance Thursday)
Highlights, Cumbria Friday 2nd Mar
Workshops Fleetwood Thursday 8th Mar
Spot On, Lancashire Friday 9th Mar
Live Lincs Sunday 11th Mar
Night Out Wales Saturday 17th Mar
Spiltmilk, The Little Love Cabaret 

Black Country Touring –  Wolverhampton  Wednesday 14th Feb
Black Country Touring – Smethwick Thursday 15th Feb
Wiltshire Rural Arts Friday 16th Feb
Spot On, Lancashire Saturday 3rd Mar
Night Out Wales Thursday 10th May
Luca Silvestini’s Protein, May Contain Food, May Contain You 

Arts Alive, Shropshire/Hereforshire Friday 23rd Feb
Spot On, Lancashire Saturday 10th Mar
Highlights, Cumbria Friday 16th Mar – Saturday 17th Mar
Take Art, Somerset Saturday 24th Mar
Night Out, Wales Wednesday 28th Mar
Keira Martin, Here Comes Trouble

Take Art, Somerset FrIday 2nd Mar
Air in G, Gloucestershire Saturday 3rd Mar
Lost Dog, Paradise Lost  

Carn to Cove, Cornwall Thursday 8th Mar – Saturday 10th Mar
Artsreach Dorset Saturday 24th Mar
Arts Alive Shropshire Wednesday 21st Mar
NEAT Scotland Friday 16th Mar – Saturday 17th Mar
Just Us Dance, Its Between Us 

Theatre Artsreach, Dorset Friday 9th Mar
Carn to Cove, Cornwall Saturday 10th Mar
Arts Alive Mini residency, Thursday 15th Mar & Friday 16th Mar
Joan Clevillé, Plan B for Utopia 

Rural Arts On Tour, N. Yorkshire  Friday 23rd Mar – Saturday 24th Mar

James Wilton Last Man Standing 

Independent -Theatre Orchard Friday 13th Apr

Beaford Arts, Devon Saturday 14th Apr

Carn to Cove ( Leviathan ) Tuesday 24th Apr

The Hiccup Project, May-We-Go-Round

Independent – Strike A Light  Thursday 26th Apr

Curious Seed

Highlights, Cumbria Friday 11th May
Cheshire Rural Touring Arts Sat 12th May 2pm
NEAT  Scotland Thursday 18th May – Friday 19th May
Carn to Cove, Cornwall Saturday 26th May
Wiltshire Rural Arts Sunday 27th May
Creative Arts East – Youth Residency Tuesday 29th  – Thursday 31st May
Black Country Touring Friday 1st June
Notes to editors

The NRTF has identified a paucity of dance on the rural touring circuit and the development of a dance project is evident in its business plan. As a result of a fruitful relationship that has developed with The Place and a successful dance showcase at the New Directions Conference 2014, curated in partnership with China Plate, there is momentum to develop dance and rural touring – 89% of conference attenders scored the dance showcase highly or very highly. Through its members the NRTF can access a huge rural touring circuit with over 2,000 promoters. Individual rural touring schemes will play an integral role in the successful roll out of the project.

The Place has been a driving force for contemporary dance in the UK for 45 years. The Place is unique and is comprised of; a training organisation, a producing and receiving theatre, a home for a national touring company and a hub for hundreds of independent artists. Our artist development department provides professional development, training, residencies, commissioning and producing support for dance artists at each stage of their career. Having developed a relationship with the NRTF and after attending the New Directions Conference there is an understanding, excitement and new commitment to supporting dance artists and the dance sector to engage with and take advantage of rural touring opportunities.

China Plate’s portfolio of activity encompasses developing, making and programming new work. They have worked closely with the NRTF for a number of years and curated the New Directions Showcase Festivals in 2012, 2014 & 2016 and programmed the Edinburgh Village Halls Project 2011 – 2013. They are interested in the interrogation of ideas and form and believe that rural communities should have direct access to the highest quality contemporary work. The cross over between dance and theatre is of particular interest and over the last few years China Plate has developed close links with Dance East, programming dance with them into the Pulse theatre festival and worked with Warwick Arts Centre to programme, commission and develop work with a number of choreographers including Charlotte Vincent, Tom Dale and Aakash Odedra.

Over the last decade Take Art has hosted the Somerset county dance agency, supporting the infrastructure for the development and promotion of professional dance in Somerset.  It has also run a rural touring scheme since 1987 and the services have worked and gained experience together. Take Art was the lead county dance agency in Up Close, the first south west rural touring dance project in partnership with Dance South West in 2007. The current Dance Director toured rural schemes extensively as a dancer with Pretty Good Girl Dance Theatre in 2009 and 2010. Its hands on experience of and commitment to dance and rural touring at a local level provides the partnership with a grounded perspective.

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.