Lobby your Local MP and Local Authorities

It has NEVER been more important to state your claim on the Comprehensive Spending Review this Autumn.

During the Pandemic, the government has recognised the importance of the arts in this country. They cannot deny its value in terms of jobs, export, cohesion and how it supports wellbeing. This is shown in the huge “bailout” fund of £1.57 Billion to save the creative industries. This treasury money is for those in crisis now and who are likely to go insolvent THIS FINANCIAL YEAR!! It is not for recovery or future investment. If your crisis point will fall in the next financial year, then the Comprehensive Spending Review is where your energy is best spent!

Renegotiation has begun on what the next three years of spend looks like. This is what your local authority gets, this is what the Arts Councils get.

MPs always reflect that when they go door to door no one ever expresses how important the arts are. They express concern about local toilets closing, potholes and schools needing more resources. While these are valid issues, so is cultural delivery.

National Rural Touring Forum take the helpful and supportive approach to lobbying. Rural Touring has something MPs, Local Authorities and Arts Council need. We have a solution to the problem of how to access the people in the heart of communities, how to build community cohesion, wellbeing, and resilience. They will be making the case to the treasury, so they need to know about you!

I urge you now to use this letter as a template to contact your local MP, the head of local authorities, funders and alike to get our collective voice heard. Do it ASAP, like next week! Please do edit it, add your stats, your stories and how important what you do is to communities, business, and opportunity. We need to ensure the Spending Review factors in regional investment and the levelling up agenda

How to find you local MP and Lord – https://members.parliament.uk/constituencies/

The Library Presents In Your House Open Call for Events in Autumn 2020

This is an open call for artists to provide a mix of digital and non-digital content for the second season of ‘In Your House’ from October to December 2020. We hope to receive applications for brilliant small ideas as well as larger scale projects! 

Deadline for expressions of interest 31 July 2020

Artists selected by 21 August 2020

Successful proposals must be ready by 5th October, with project plan and promotional material, and the work ready for release to the public between the 5th October and 18th December 2020. 

“In Your House” a new programme of exciting, fun and interesting arts to enjoy from home! We will programme something for all ages across a range of art forms including; Music, Storytelling, Theatre, Radio Drama, Visual Art, Magic, Animation, Poetry and Craft.

The fee is between £600 and £4,000 per artist (excluding VAT).

Please click here to view further information. 

NRTF Launches Free Membership

National Rural Touring Forum recognises that this is a difficult time for artists, arts organisations and everyone in the cultural sector. As a gesture of solidarity, we have made our Associate membership FREE for 1 year!

This will enable Artists, Festivals, venues, promoters, producers and arts organisations to not only have a profile on our website but access all our resources including using the member discussion board and information in our weekly e-bulletin.

You don’t have to have done Rural Touring to be a member, anyone can join if they are interested in being a part of, or hearing more about, our wonderful sector.

How to Join –

New members

  • Go to our website https://www.ruraltouring.org/buy-membership/
  • Choose the type of member you are from the list
  • Fill in all the information you are asked for in the sign-up form
  • When you get to the check out area apply the discount code – NRTF Free. This will take the cost to £0

Existing members

If you joined since 1 April 2020 you will be issued a refund automatically sometime next week.

If you joined between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 you will get a renewal letter a year after the date you joined. You will be asked to renew your membership and given a code to get a free year from that date.

Use discount code – NRTF Free – at the checkout!

NB new free membership offers close from 1 April 2021

Arts Alive at Home: The Fairy’s Kiss, Thursday 18th June

The next Arts Alive at Home event will be on Thursday 18th June at 2.30 pm, where you can watch The Fairy’s Kiss performed by Scottish Ballet.

A gorgeous one-act ballet inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale ‘The Ice Maiden’, and composed by Stravinsky. Thanks to an ingenious new design by Gary Harris, Scottish Ballet was able to revive the production in 2017 and capture it for online audiences.

Suitable for all ages. Running time 48 minutes

You will find the link to the performance on the Arts Alive website at: https://www.artsalive.co.uk/show.aspx?id=11188

After the show at 3.30pm, there will be a live post-show conversation via Zoom with Beth Kingsley-Garner who stars in one of the lead roles of this production.

If you would like to join this Zoom conversation please email cerin@artsalive.co.uk

The Federation x BBC Radio 4 Front Row – Covid Impact Survey

The Creative Industries Federation and Front Row, BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts programme, are joining forces to survey the creative industries and find out about the impact of the virus on the creative sector.

The results of this survey will be reported back on Front Row on 23rd and 30th June with the episodes forming part of their Rethink season, in which BBC Radio 4 will be asking how we might radically reimagine the way that the UK could work in a post corona crisis world.

All responses will remain anonymous. Click the link below to take this quick survey, and help by adding your voice to reimagining our sector. 

SURVEY – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MB3GCPY

NRTF Announce Digital Conference October 2020

The programme will be every Tuesday throughout October –

6 October – Diversity & Inclusion

13 October – Libraries day

20 October – Future Proofing (of the sector)

27 October – Leadership & Mental Health

Every day the conference will be – roughly 4.5 hours plus a lunch break

We will update her and directing

What Happened?

After the June 2020 NRTF conference was cancelled, in early March, the decision was to host it later in the year. However, with the ongoing Pandemic situation and the financial downturn for the sector NRTF has taken the decision to present a Digital Conference in October 2020.

The Digital Conference will host a showcase of performances alongside professional development opportunities and networking. We are looking forward to sharing plans with you. Watch this space for updates and session!

“We feel there is a definite need for all involved in the Rural Touring Sector come together this year to share, learn and watch!” Holly Lombard, Director NRTF

The new Date for a live NRTF Conference is set for Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 June 2021

National Rural Touring Awards Postponed to 2021

NRTF has taken the decision to postpone the National Rural Touring Awards for 2020 in light of the Pandemic. We recognise the need to pause right now and are exploring other ways to highlight the breadth of hard work, dedication and talent that happens in our sector.

The next awards will take place during the 2021 NRTF Conference in June, where we will have the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments from the past two years!

If you have voted already that is OK. The voting will stay open from now until the Award voting closes in Spring 2021.

For more information on the awards go to the Awards page

Applause Rural Touring and What’s Coming Out Of The Box release audio adventure for families

What’s Coming Out of the Box Presents

The Quest

The Quest is a story about adventure…

After receiving a mysterious call during lockdown, a librarian and her housemates set out on a quest to discover the meaning of adventure.

Ever wanted to go to the moon, become a spy or an inventor?

Using everyday props, this imaginative and interactive audio play offers you a chance to join in with activities to become part of the story.

There are three 10 minute episodes, each looks at the life of a real character and their adventure. It is a great way to become immersed in a story and experience a sense of travel from home.

My daughter and I loved the idea of being taken on a journey out of our kitchen with some great surprises along the way. Her eyes literally popped when she did the water and glass experiment all by herself!  It was a welcome release from screens to delve into our imaginations through audio.‘ Gillian Farrell, Mum to Maeve aged 5

Perfect for families, particularly for those with children aged 5-10, all 3 episodes of The Quest will be available on the Applause website to enjoy together, for free, from Friday 12th June  https://applause.org.uk/whats-coming-out-of-the-box-the-quest/
This project was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. It was also supported by Applause Rural Touring.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival call out for ‘Love Micro-Commissions’

Callout launch: 5 th June 2020
Closing date: Sunday 5th July 2020 – midnight

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (D&G Arts Festival) is the only region-wide performing arts organisation in Dumfries and Galloway (D&G). Our 10-day festival in May is the largest rural performing arts festival in Scotland bringing performance to people in some of the most remote areas of the UK. Since 2016 we have developed and delivered our year-round programme, Arts Live and we are a promoter and performing arts network that supports venues, artists and promoters from across the region, who in turn enable us to curate a diverse year round performing arts programme.

D&G Arts Festival will support 11 performing artists through 11 micro-commissions for sharing with audiences July 2020 – December 2020. Performing artists could be working in dance, theatre, spoken word, music, live art, comedy, interdisciplinary performance.


There are 11 micro-commissions available. Six of the commissions are open to performing artists at any career stage, based anywhere in Scotland. Five of these micro-commissions will be offered to young people between 18-25 who are based in Dumfries and Galloway as part of our Stage-iT programme, with a callout to those ages 15-18 coming soon. We particularly welcome proposals from artists facing additional barriers in their work.

Young artists’ commissions x 5

  • 1 x £1000
  • 2 x £500
  • 2 x £300

For presentation July – December 2020 (Stage iT funded by the Holywood Trust)

Open commissions x 6

  • 1 x £1000
  • 2 x £500
  • 3 x £300

For presentation July – October 2020

We are inviting proposals that respond to the theme of LOVE. What we pay attention to grows. We want to pay attention to artists, the resource D&G and its festival have to offer as a place to make and perform your work and we want to pay attention to LOVE as…

…a catalyst for change (how would you love things to be?) 
…an emotion (what do you love?)
…a feeling of hope (just add love)
…a desire to care (handle with love)

This invitation is our first attempt to work with artists post-Covid-19 and we want to begin a journey of learning what artists and our audiences and communities might need in this new world through this process.


  • Closing date: Sunday 5th July 2020 – midnight
  • Contact email: Kim Simpson, Programmer (Freelance) – programme@dgartsfestival.org.uk
  • Application: CV (no more than two pages)
  • Links to/examples of work (no more than 5)
  • Proposal (no more than two pages or 10mins of video/sound recording) outlining the idea and how it meets the criteria for this micro-commission Alternative formats:

We welcome proposals in formats/languages such as BSL, Braille, sound or video recording or transcribed by phone. We have a budget for removing any barriers you might face in submitting a proposal. Please contact Kim Simpson on programme@dgartsfestival.org.uk if you would like to discuss this or submit your application by phone.

Find out more

Kim Simpson, who recently joined the team at D&G Arts Festival as Programmer, will be running two Zoom coffee shops while the invitation is open for artists considering a proposal. 14:00 – 15:00 on Tuesday 16th June 2020 11:00 – 12:00 on Tuesday 23rd June 2020 Please email programme@dgartsfestival.org.uk up to 24 hours before the session for the link, including any access requirements you may have.

The downloadable document below contains further information that will help you decide if our micro-commission is right for you and to help you with your proposal. It includes why we are doing micro-commissions, how they will work, what we are looking for, who we want to hear from, the selection process and some details about the region of Dumfries and Galloway.

BCT Receive Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Black Country Touring have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

BCT is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Frances Land, Black Country Touring, Co-Artistic Director Said: “This is a real boost for us, particularly as we struggle to adapt to lockdown and social distancing, when the community venues we work with are closed. Our incredible team has included 251 volunteers and we are delighted that our work has been recognised. It’s a real tribute to the hard work and commitment our volunteers bring to the community.”

Black Country Touring’s volunteers range from 7 to 70+ and can be with the organisation from 6 months to many years.

They train and support their volunteers to share the joys of having the arts as part of their lives with others in their community. The team enables local people, of all ages and backgrounds, to see high-quality theatre, dance and film in their local area at an affordable price, often in areas of high deprivation with very few professional theatres and venues.

Their volunteer programme supports and empowers people to be decision makers and create special, shared experiences that would not happen otherwise. When programming professional theatre, dance and cinema events in local venues for their community, the volunteers are supported by Black Country Touring at every step of promoting the event.

Volunteers learn how to select professional touring theatre shows and build a programme of events tailored to the local venue they use. Venues include libraries, schools and community centres.

Many people who attend would have no contact with the performing arts without Black Country Touring and its volunteers. Often these events are the only link with the outside world for people at risk of loneliness and isolation.

BCT could not operate at all without their enthusiastic volunteers. They are the people on the ground in the heart of the community who select, organise and promote the shows their audiences want to see. Black Country Touring support them to develop their skills, confidence and experience of organising events.

A key part of the work is about raising aspirations and improving people’s wellbeing through volunteering, by connecting them with other people in their local community and reducing the risk of isolation. Something that is very important during this time.

Julie Mckirdy B.E.M, Senior supervisor at Smethwick Town Libraries and BCT board member said: “I am over the moon to hear this wonderful news today that Black Country touring have been awarded the prestigious Queens voluntary award. BCT thoroughly deserve this accolade, they work so hard to bring the arts to Sandwell and the rest of the Black country.

All the team have helped with my personal development within the arts and played a massive part in how Thimblemill Library has become known and respected today within the arts cultural scene. So on behalf of all the community of Thimblemill library and beyond I would like to congratulate each and all at BCT and well done you wonderful people.”

Black Country Touring will receive the award from Mr John Crabtree OBE, Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands later this summer and two volunteers from Black Country Touring will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England added his congratulations: “Huge congratulations to Black Country Touring and we’re delighted that their work with volunteers has been recognised at the very highest level possible. Black Country Touring is funded by the National Lottery; this is thanks to Lottery players so it’s right that so many people share the benefits.

The Queen’s award pays tribute to the volunteers ongoing commitment, people who offer their own time and experience ensuring that the role of arts and culture touches as many people as possible. Great work to everyone at Black Country Touring”.

Black Country Touring is hugely grateful to Arts Council England, Sandwell Council, Wolverhampton City Council and all their other funders and partners that make their work possible.