Libraries Week is an annual showcase and celebration of the best that libraries have to offer. Taking place between the 4th and 10th October, Libraries week 2021 will be celebrating the nation’s much-loved libraries and the central role that libraries play in their community as a driver for inclusion, sustainability, social mobility and community cohesion.
The Touring Arts In Libraries (TAIL) project is all about boosting the ambition of libraries to deliver a programme of touring work. We know taking arts into these open, friendly, public spaces is both positive and inspiring not just for those communities but also for library staff, and artists.
We want to promote Rural Touring arts activities in libraries by sharing your events with our project partners, forum members and followers.
So don’t hesitate to email Jess Huffman TAIL project manager on firstname.lastname@example.org with links and details of what you’re up to. Let us help you to shout about it!
What else is the TAIL project doing for Libraries week?
Our monthly mail out will highlight the latest project news and opportunities for libraries, schemes and artists. Including touring shows, new library specific commissions, Go See Grants, and artists workshops.
On Monday 11th October as part of our Mechanics: Online Rural Touring Workshops for Artists, we’ll be running an interactive session that will include feedback from artists with library touring experience and a chance to pitch your own creative ideas.
Rural Touring in the UK happens in lots of different ways. There are, of course, rural-based theatres and arts venues that will have a full tech set up and their own programming teams, who operate much the same as their urban counterparts. Alongside this, rural community venues such as village halls, pubs and libraries also host professional arts events, to provide their communities with a rich cultural offering.
One way of rural touring is to work directly with these community venues. You may book the hall for your show, or in some cases, the hall may book you directly or you may agree on a box office split. The other way and the way that the NRTF is predominantly involved is through Rural Touring Schemes.
Rural Touring Schemes act like the programming department for a theatre or arts venue, except instead of programming different spaces within one building, they work with a network of volunteer promoters and rural venues to programme shows across a geographical area (usually they cover a county or two).
Each Rural Touring Scheme works slightly differently (depending on their size/funding etc.) but the basic model is this…
Artists apply to be programmed with the scheme (like you would with a theatre venue). Schemes then liaise with artists to pencil in dates, usually two or three dates, discuss fees etc. and make sure their work is appropriate for their rural touring spaces.
They then put together a menu of shows, which they send out to their rural venues and their volunteer promoters. This menu will offer a variety of music, theatre, children’s work, dance etc. Each scheme has different sized seasons and menus depending on their funding.
From this the venues and volunteer promoters tell the schemes which show, or shows, they would like for their halls, based on their space, knowledge of their audience, and importantly what dates are available in the venue diary.
The schemes then take in all of these expressions of interest, and piece together the season – like a giant jigsaw. They will then confirm with the artists which halls or venues they’ll be heading to on which date.
The artists then provide the halls and promoters with the marketing material. The volunteer promoter is responsible for promoting the event and selling the tickets, helping the artists get in on the day, and hosting the event on the night. The schemes are there to support the artists and the venues with marketing, or any teething problems that come up along the way. Schemes will usually produce a season brochure which is sent out across their location and to their mailing lists, they will run social media campaigns and support online ticket sales via their websites (but again this differs from scheme to scheme).
Schemes tend to guarantee the artist a set fee per show, rather than working on box office splits etc. but as I said each one operates ever so slightly differently. Some schemes also cover overnight stays or will facilitate homestays.
Truth Sleuth in Thrills, Chills and Chemical Spills
A choose your own adventure by Modest Genius
Hello! We’re delighted to let you know about Modest Genius’ brand new ‘choose your own adventure’ digital game, that will be available for communities, festivals, libraries, organisations, schools & venues to engage with across the UK and the world from June 2021
Truth Sleuth in Thrills, Chills and Chemical Spills is an interactive storybook with a series of binary choices that take the player on branching narratives. The game explores bias and trusted sources, linking the player’s choices to integrity level. In order to win the game you must maintain a high integrity level so that the town of Amberville believe in your accusations.
Modest Genius have developed a choose-your-own-adventure style computer game. Through an original and engaging interactive story set in the library, discover tools for revealing bias, recognising hidden agenda and separating fact from opinion.
Average gameplay time: 60 minutes
Age guidance: 7+
Truth Sleuth needs you…
From June 2021 we are inviting communities, festivals, libraries, organisations, schools & venues to engage with our digital offer, by offering your audiences the opportunity to play Truth Sleuth as part of your digital programme. The game will be available to download for FREE – with generous support and funding we are in a position to make this game as accessible as reach as far and wide as possible as we learn to live, think, come together and adapt to these topsy turvy times.
If you would be interested in finding out more, in hosting and sharing this digital piece with your audience and communities please email Pound Arts at email@example.com
Babylon Arts are offering nine micro commissions for creative practitioners of any artform, to provide a gentle springboard for them to work up a new or existing early idea, that is about connecting people in East Cambridgeshire with the arts in some way.
This opportunity is aimed at creative practitioners who have some experience in delivering socially engaged arts activities or projects that make connections with people.
A micro commission payment of £200 for each of the nine creative practitioners that are selected from their expression of interest.
The chance to discuss your idea with a panel of creatives and project managers to get feedback, make connections and gain suggestions for next steps.
The opportunity to have your idea selected for a £2000 commission to develop and bring to life your project, so that it can be tested/delivered to an identified audience, group or community based in East Cambridgeshire. We have one £2000 commission available.
The opportunity to have two, one-to-one coaching sessions with a qualified careers coach
All you need to do:
To get started, creative practitioners need to submit an expression of interest either by completing this short online form, or sending in a video of no more than 2 minutes, covering the following points:
Two or three sentences describing your experience in delivering socially engaged arts activities or projects
A brief outline of your idea – this might be something like “As a filmmaker, I’ve been thinking about how we use our smartphones to capture and edit films and I have the spark of an idea about how to use this technology to create a film with young carers or young people excluded from school…”
You might show us an example of your work or provide a visual reference point for your initial idea.
If submitting a film you will need to provide your postcode and contact telephone number in the email too.
Deadline for Expressions of Interest is 10am on Monday 26th April 2021.
The NRTF TAIL Project, is a 2 year ACE funded initiative that looks to bring the rural touring and library sector together to promote, strengthen and boost opportunity for programming and delivering touring arts in libraries.
The TAIL Project’s ‘Unlocked’ series works by promoting digital and COVID safe content to libraries from across the rural touring sector to encourage collaboration and support libraries to discover and deliver a high quality creative programme to their service users despite ongoing restrictions.
This month we’re putting the spotlight on….
Spot On Lancashire, who bring professional performances to rural communities and library spaces all over the county, launched a digital project entitled Spot On Stories when lockdown began in March 2020.
In partnership with Lancashire Libraries, the intention was to bring artists and their pre-recorded stories directly to Lancashire audiences in their homes. This offered audiences access to great art when they wanted, where they wanted. As the lockdown continued, the focus of the project shifted slightly with a marketing angle of ‘taking ten minutes out’, encouraging people to set aside the stresses of the day and use these video stories as a means to indulge in culture, reflect and rest.
The first mini-show to be broadcast was for children and families. Theatre Fideri Fidera’s ‘Meet Ugg ‘n’ Ogg’ was an adaptation of their live show which was due to be hosted in Lancashire over Easter 2020. Spot On worked alongside the theatre company to create an exclusive performance for Lancashire audiences which aired in April 2020 via the Spot On Facebook page, website and YouTube channel. The programme of events continued to grow each week culminating in a successful commission from The Space for further digital mentoring and support and two more seasons of activity. (Further library funding has just been secured for a ‘Flash Fiction’ season soon to be launched)
Spot On Stories content is available for free via social media channels and over the year has welcomed over 30 co-hosts who can share the videos with their own audiences. Spot On is keen to hear from other library services and organisations who are interested in becoming co-hosts. With nearly 50,000 views of seasons 2 and 3 it’s clear there is an audience for digital performance and increasing the geographic spread of the sharing results in additional brand awareness and helps increase public awareness of the artists and their work.
The project has commissioned over 40 short videos to date; a mixture of content specifically made for children and families, grown-ups, a two part panto themed production, traditional tales made modern, contemporary dance, music and even bingo… there’s a lot to choose from!
Programme Manager, Lyndsey Wilson explains: “Creating these micro shows hasn’t just offered the Library Service a means of increasing contact with their users, it has been a lifeline for artists and for the Spot On team who needed to continue producing something positive during this uncertain time.”
Cultural Development Manager for Lancashire County Council, Heather Fox notes: “Spot On responded so quickly and positively to serve library users with some amazing stories. It has meant that we’ve been able to sustain engagement with our users throughout these difficult times.”
What began as a temporary project to fill a programming gap, providing some much needed funding to artists and providing audiences with great content, has blossomed into an additional strand of work for this organisation, with intentions for this programme to continue as part of the Spot On cultural offer. If you are interested in learning more about the project and getting involved either as an artist or a co-host please contact Spot On for further details.
Spot On Lancashire is a countywide service which enables people living in remote and rural communities to enjoy high quality live arts events on their doorstep. Spot On do this by working in partnership with over 200 volunteers and appear in over 50 different small places each year.
Spot On enables volunteers to choose and host professional performances and our support makes shows which could only otherwise be seen in urban arts centres, available to smaller communities.
Spot On is delivered by Blackburn-based Culturapedia, as part of the Cheshire Lancashire Touring Partnership with Lancashire County Council and Cheshire Rural Touring Arts.
Spot On is part of the national portfolio of the Arts Council England and is also invested in by Lancashire County Council and the districts of Fylde, Ribble Valley, Wyre and the Unitary Authority of Blackburn with Darwen.
About midway through 2020 the whole concept and notion of Zoom fatigue was being discussed. Suddenly, new regular phrases emerged, such as ”Can you hear me okay?”, “You’re on mute!” and “you have no authority here..”
And I envied it… I haven’t been in many Zoom meetings. As a freelance performer and creative I wasn’t really in a team. I wanted to play with Zoom!
So I started to tell stories on Zoom*.
*I know it’s never going to replace live work with an actual audience. One you can see and smell. And I, like you I’m sure, miss that dearly…
And I loved it. I loved having a new audience of people to interact with and get a response from. As I’ve got more used to the software I learned how to adapt my material and performance style to increase interaction. I started to be able to bring the bulldozer of chaos that I adore in my own storytelling, into this new realm. I learned how the software could include people at what ever level they want to be included.
It has meant that I’ve been able to work across the country and beyond. That I’ve been able to tell stories and shout at children from around the world! Who could ask for more?
I had hoped to tour my storytelling show, Twisted Tales for Terrible Children…” in 2020. Instead I took it onto Zoom. And I could hear laughter. I could see the engagement and I could involve an audience that wanted to be part of my stuff and nonsense. I was invited to perform for Manchester Libraries, with one of the days being 20 classes in 3 shows. Joyous!
I’m also the talent manager for my cousin, Father Christmas and actively encouraged him to deliver some storytelling zoom sessions. And equally, he had a wonderful time being extraordinarily silly. Well he does have a very high pressure job so it’s good to let off some steam. The Father Christmas Storytelling was projected into the venue at The Pound. Mr Christmas was able to see and hear the audience. Sat in the their family bubbles 15 minutes before the virtual audience, there was a chance for FC to have a pre show chat and hello with those that had come out on that Christmas Eve. The Zoom Audience was let in and the estimable Pound Zoom hosts were able to let me see, hear and interact with audience members online and on site. After the Zoom show there was time for Father Christmas to interact once again with the audience in the venue. Before having to leave and get on with the other jog of that night… That blend was deliciously fun. Jokes were swapped, funny faces were pulled and shared. Laughs and the lovely echo of a time together that will soon return, I’m sure.
More recently I have been enjoying zoom storytelling sessions for Cubs, Scouts and Beavers up and down the country. Virtual Fireside storytelling. Plus a Funny Looking Kids: Comedy Club. An online live sketch show for families. So I thought I would give you a few top tips.
I think there are going to be plenty of opportunities moving forward, of retaining the online element. I’m looking forward to experimenting with blending live storytelling performance and an online audience.
Here are my very simple top tips, from a very simple Storyteller:
Play with Zoom as a Host if you haven’t, see what the differences are between pinning, spotlighting, the different types of views.
Keep your set up in gallery view, so that you can see as many of the audience as possible.
Look at the camera lens and not the Zoom room…
Have fun with a green screen! Or any blank wall colour. Adding backgrounds are a nifty little way to transport yourself with simple video and images.
Light your face. Bright and clear. It helps with the video quality.
Have the camera at eye height, not desk height. Look at your audience, not down on them.
Talk to the Waiting Room before you start your show! Ask them to change their screen name to whoever is watching this show.
I ask that a grown-up is there to give me a thumbs up if children are on screen.
Encourage people to take part. Unmuted as individuals, or a specific times, the full group. Or contribute in the chat.
Have a buddy/co-host that can help you steward the group and send messages to you about audience members desperate to be involved you might have missed.
I think it will remain perfect for scratch performances, readings, poetry, storytelling and more.
I can’t wait for live audiences, who we know are desperate for enthralling, engaging, exciting, entertaining performances. But not everybody is going to be able to get out so readily.
I know personally I am enjoying the opportunity to see more work from diverse people, from around the world.
I bet you’ve got a fantastic story to tell and I would love to watch and help. Do get in contact with your experiences. I always love a chat with another performer about what they have been up to. See you soon, on Zoom?
Some Zoom audience Feedback:
“The joy and laughter of the Beavers – and the parents chuckles in the background (we were a zoom session) spoke for itself.”
“Just wanted to say thank you for organising such a great meeting tonight. My children both really enjoyed it and I loved hearing their laughter throughout. It was exactly what we needed part way through this lockdown. Thank you.”
“Stories told very well and funny. Liked the “best smile”. Very much enjoyed the interactive bits.”
“The whole group loved it! Primarily booked for beavers and cubs, some of our scouts logged in also and he thought it was very funny, So spanned from 6 to grown ups, loved seeing them all laughing and enjoying, and thinking differently about traditional tales!”
About Gav Cross
Gav describes himself as a Storyteller, Creative & Idiot. Find them on:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GavCrossStoryteller Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/gavcross Twitter – https://twitter.com/GavCross And grab a peak at the tour brochure for “Twisted Tales for Terrible Children…” – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1att7C_tXP4_Gv4qyFwjBOcg8mRIzjVZe
For the upcoming Funny Looking Kids: Zoom Comedy Club details, go to https://funnylooking.co.uk
We are joining ACRE to celebrate Village Halls Week 2021 from the 25th January, and we are asking you to get involved by doing one or more of the following 3 things:
1. Send us a photo of your village hall!
We want to see your local village hall in all it’s glory. This could be from the outside, or indoors, you may have a photo of a fantastic rural touring event you hosted, or you may want to take one of the hall empty (but full of possibilities). We will use these photos across our social media and website during Village Halls Week with full credit for the photographer. We may also ask permission to use the photo beyond Village Halls Week.
We’re not limiting this to promoters, if you’re an artist or a scheme, and happen to have a fantastic Village Hall photo we’d love to see those too!
Email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
Including the name of your village hall, and where it is, and any credits you would like given to the photographer.
2. Send us a limerick or short statement about what your hall means to you!
We want to know what your hall or Village Halls, in general, mean to you, and we’d like to encourage you to get creative with it! You’ve never let us down in the past! There’s no limit on words or sentences, but we would like to use whatever you send us on social media, so best to keep it fairly short.
You can send your limerick/story/statement/drawing/memories to email@example.com again including the name of your local village hall and where it is. Or you can post on social media yourself (preferably during Village Halls Week) making sure to tag us @ruraltouring on twitter
3. Request a copy of our poster for our previous Village Hall Week Poems
If you’d like a copy of our previous Village Halls Week poems to display proudly in your hall or community notice board please leave us your details here and we will endeavour to send them out to you in time for Village Halls Week. Our posters are A4. To request a poster to be sent out to you, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your Village Hall and your postal address.
About Village Halls Week
Village Halls Week is a national celebration of the 10,000+ village halls which can be found across England, their volunteers and the difference they make to the rural communities they serve.
Our 2021 campaign will be a celebration of how village halls are survivors. Many have been bringing people together in rural communities since the 1920s. And in the past year, the volunteers who manage these buildings have shown great determination and resilience in the face of Coronavirus, negotiating lockdowns and putting in place Covid Secure measures so they could continue supporting their local community.
As social gatherings are currently off limits, Village Halls Week will look at bit different in 2021. In the past ACRE Network members have hosted various events across the country but this year we will be moving this activity online in the spirit of the times.
Find out about what ACRE have planned here: https://acre.org.uk/our-work/village-halls-week.php
Thank you to Oliver Carpenter from Mumbo Jumbo for sending us this artists report on their live show, performed under Covid Safe Conditions on the 18th December 2020.
Mumbo-Jumbo – Live Performance in Covid 19 Conditions Venue: Hartlebury Parish Hall, Worcestershire Scheme: Live & Local Date: 18 December 2020
Regulars on the Rural Touring circuit, singer-songwriting trio Mumbo-Jumbo were asked to put on a full live performance at Hartlebury Parish Hall on 18th December 2020 under very carefully controlled conditions developed by the venue team, Live & Local and the performers. While the arrangements were fundamental it was also important to see whether, throughout the performance, it would feel like real entertainment without a cloud of conditions hanging over it.
The Venue Hartlebury Parish Hall is a 100 capacity modern village hall serving a large village which was in Tier 2 at the time. The promoters had selected a two-set performance with a short interval.
The Performers Mumbo-Jumbo has three performers and a technician, all from different households.
Planning With so much at stake the venue, scheme, and performers all fully understood the importance of getting both the planning and the delivery right. Following regular Zoom discussions Covid 19 specific Risk Assessment documents were prepared by both venue and performers and a room capacity of 30 was decided upon.
Areas covered included;
Full Social Distancing – including movement routing, toilet arrangements, arrival, set up and departure programmes
for performers and audience, performer distancing etc.
Ticketing & Registration – including pre-purchase only, named audience, NHS app etc.
PPE and Conditions – including wearing of masks throughout (other than on stage) for performers and audience,
ventilation and cleaning down procedures.
Catering – There was no bar or food (bring your own) and no hospitality for the performers.
So How Did It Feel? From a performing point of view, once the stage lights came on and everyone’s attention was on the music it felt like a gig. The audience laughed and clapped in all the right places, the interaction of everyone in the room seem to build with each song and the shape and pattern of the evening.
This short form is designed to help you asses whether or not your show is Rural Touring ready. We take you through the very basic needs of rural touring and give you a list of things to consider. We also point you to other helpful resources and pages along the way. Please note this form is NOT a way of submitting your show to be considered for touring but should be used as a tool to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to approach schemes.