National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) networks, develops and supports the ecosystem that delivers high-quality creative experiences across communities and rural areas in the UK. The aim of the NRTF is to strengthen and support rural populations to bring professional work to their venues.
About National Rural Touring Forum
NRTF members are made up of a national network of Rural Touring Schemes who programme menus of professional artistic events that tour in their region. We also have artist, venue, promoter, producer and festival members all promoting and developing professional work for rural settings.
NRTF provides its members with opportunities for training, making connections, showcases, research, discussion and advocacy. It also develops strategic projects that enable national & international partnerships and commissions. We sit on Arts Council Rural Stakeholders panels to lobby for support in the rural sectors and highlight the importance of meeting the needs of rural audiences and communities. We also lobby at government level and throughout the creative and cultural sectors. Through research and advocacy, the NRTF aims to promote a better understanding of the value of rural arts and touring.
Many Rural Touring Schemes are funded organisations, and some by Arts Council England. This means they can subsidise programmes to bring bigger or more innovative work to their venues. The schemes will spend a lot of their time seeking creative work they believe are suitable and enjoyable for their audiences. They will also challenge audiences to try something new.
One way they do this is through projects such as the Rural Touring Dance Initiative. In 2015 the NRTF joined forces with The Place, Take Art and China Plate to launch a development initiative for making and touring dance performances to and for rural areas. You can find out more about the RTDI and our other projects here.
Across the UK
There is a big difference between performing on the rural touring network and in BlackBox or urban theatres. Rural Touring performers need to me much more self-sufficient, they need to be able to get there, be flexible with get-ins and have minimal or easy set ups. What they get in return is an up-close and personal experience with the local community. With rural touring artists are welcomed into the heart of these communities, often sharing meals with the local promoter beforehand, and a drink with the audience afterward. It is not often you get such raw, instant and direct feedback from audience members on your production. It is unique and beautiful and incredibly rewarding.
A large part of what the NRTF is about is not underestimating rural audiences. Funding for the Arts is still a city-centric issue; traveling to large towns and cities to see productions can be time and financially prohibitive. There are also physiological barriers to some who don’t feel as comfortable in larger cultural institutions. Access to the arts is important for everyone in society. It is reasonable to assume most people appreciate seeing high-quality and innovative performance & art. This is what the NRTF is addressing and highlighting. We want to give every rural area the chance to become cultural hubs.
Across the UK there are currently 30-member schemes, 1,650 promoting groups, 110,000 voluntary hours, 332,000 audience, over £1,000,000 box office sales.
NRTF is the leading voice for the rural touring sector across the UK. Every village can become a cultural centre.
NRTF is recognised as a key strategic organisation by major funders and policymakers. This includes the Arts Council England (ACE), Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and other government and sectoral organisations where our interests and ambitions coincide.
NRTF underpins a sustainable, resilient rural touring infrastructure that enhances the quality of life for those people living in rural areas. NRTF CONTEXT
The UK’s approach to rural touring shows what the independent arts sector, local authorities and communities can achieve by working together: it is a model of good practice, demonstrates value for money and builds volunteering capacity in rural communities
NRTF aspires to be bold in the following areas:
- High-quality professional arts experiences suited to local needs and interests
- Fair partnerships between communities, organisations, artists and public bodies
- Creative diversity in artistic programming and among our audiences
- Creative innovation in arts practice, management and policy
- Maintaining and developing our unique relationship with thousands of community volunteers
- Developing an appropriate mindset for NRTF’s role as a strategic and national leader.
National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) works strategically with partners to: develop a programme that delivers high-quality artistic work and cultural experiences; broadens and deepens audience engagement and strengthens rural and other communities.
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