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About NRTF

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.

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.

If you aren't sure what some of these words mean, not to worry, visit our Rural Touring Definitions page here.

Meet the Team

Holly Lombardo NRTF Director

Holly Lombardo

Director

Innovation Champion

Rural Producers & Scheme Champion

“Throughout my career, one thread has been consistent; my passion for networking and generating platforms for creative development. I am responsible for linking up and facilitating opportunities for cultural leaders, artists, and audiences. I can see the wider picture of national and international cultural trends and I am ambitious with how I interpret that into initiatives and policy.”

Holly has worked in creative industries at a senior level since 2001. She founded the Brighton Fringe in 2004, managing it to become the 3rd largest Arts Fringe Festival in the world. She was a senior manager at the Edinburgh Fringe Society and Director of an Edinburgh Fringe venue. Known for working within some of the UK’s largest international Festivals, in 2007 Holly pooled her knowledge of the cultural sector and founded the World Fringe Network, which links nearly 300 Fringe Festivals across the globe. Holly has lectured at Universities on event & business management, was an assessor for the Arts Council England, where she assessed the NRTF, and has been an Executive Trustee of the British Arts Festival Association for 8 years. More recently she was the Project Director for Wooden O Theatres and left her position as the Artistic Director of Fusion Arts Oxford to join the NRTF.

holly@nrtf.org.uk

Freelancers and Contractors

Hattie Thomas
Hattie Thomas
Membership Manager

Access Champion
Artists Champion

Hattie is a puppeteer, puppet maker and workshop facilitator. She is also the Co-Artistic Director of Smoking Apples Theatre Company, who make puppetry and visual theatre for young people and adults. Hattie also delivers workshops with participants from varying backgrounds, including neurodivergent young people, and people living with dementia.

Hattie also freelances as a graphic designer and puppetry consultant.

membership@nrtf.org.uk

Emily O'Shea
Emily O'Shea
RTDI Coordinator

Access Champion
Dance Champion

Emily is a multidisciplinary artist and producer with a creative practice in Dance, Oracy, and Illustration.
She is a visionary and instigator, working with a socially engaged practice to tell stories of folklore and lived experience.

 

Understanding first hand the barriers faced by neurodivergent people, Emily is an advocate of accessible arts practice for all, in the widest scope possible.

dance@nrtf.org.uk

Eamon Foreman
Eamon Foreman
Marketing & Digital Coordinator
Environmental Sustainability Champion

Eamon is our marketing & digital coordinator. Alongside his marketing career Eamon is also an artist and musician operating in jazz, electronic and improvised music.

admin@nrtf.org.uk

Alice Porter
Alice Porter
Finance Manager

NRTF currently contracts Alice of Creative Arts Promotion Ltd (CAP) to manage the NRTF finances. CAP is an arts agency based in York. Founded in 1994 by David and Alice Porter. CAP works principally with local authorities and national organisations to develop arts programmes. Alice and David worked as the leaders of NRTF for over 20 years before handing the reins on in 2018.

finance@nrtf.org.uk

Beth Gallimore
Beth Gallimore
Conference and Events Manager

Beth has been producing live events and festivals across the length and breadth of the UK since 2012. Highlights include EFG London Jazz Festival, Gateshead International Jazz Festival, BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, Robert Smith's Meltdown at Southbank Centre, Bradford Literature Festival, and the 200th birthday celebrations of the Royal Society of Literature. Beth's work is driven by a desire to bring communities together in shared, joyful experiences. She is invigorated and inspired to get to know the passionate individuals that make up the NRTF, and hopes to see you at the 2024 Conference!

events@nrtf.org.uk

Board Members

Tom Speight
Tom Speight (chair)

Tom was a rural touring Promoter for 12 years, putting on over 40 shows in his village in north Cumbria. He was also on the board of Highlights, the rural touring scheme in the North of England, for 6 years before joining the NRTF board in 2016. He also put on an annual 4-day music festival called Music on the Marr for 10 years, and now helps create an annual 3 day community festival called Cockermouth Live. He helps run the Cumbria Arts and Culture Network and produces a podcast each month called Behind the Scenery, looking at the cultural scene across the county. He works for the BBC and plays ukulele.

@tomspeight

Kerry Bartlett
Kerry Bartlett

Kerry Bartlett is the Executive Director of Artsreach, Dorset's rural touring organisation, working in partnership with a network of more than 300 volunteers from over 40 rural communities to present over 150 cultural experiences every year. Kerry has been involved with rural touring for over ten years, having joined Artsreach in 2012 after working for several years as the marketing officer for a community theatre. Working her way from Marketing Officer to Director, Kerry has learnt a lot about rural touring from the bottom up, and is passionate about ensuring the rural touring network remains a vibrant and viable outlet for artists, whilst nurturing and developing the incredible community volunteers without whom the sector would cease to exist.

www.artsreach.co.uk

Emyr Bell
Emyr Bell

Emyr has been Executive Director at North East Arts Touring since 2013 and supports volunteer promoters across Aberdeenshire, Moray and Aberdeen.During the past 25 years Emyr has been involved in rural touring in one context or another, currently as a scheme manager and previously as a performer and stage manager. He is a keen advocate for developing a voice for young people to influence the arts as young promoters and as audiences. Emyr places a high emphasis on creating opportunities for children to experience theatre within an educational context and is currently developing a network of rural school performances across the North East of Scotland.

www.neatshows.co.uk

Sita Brand
Sita Brand

Sita Brand is a performer, writer, producer and arts consultant. In 2010 she founded Settle Stories to create transformative experiences that ignite curiosity and reimagine storytelling.Based in the Yorkshire Dales, Settle Stories is committed to collaboration and doing things differently. Through their flagship festival Yorkshire Festival of Story, the charity brings high quality storytelling, creative experiences and digital arts to rural audiences. Their online Stories for Schools Programme reaches over 70,000 young people in schools every year. In 2021 she established Storyversity, the world’s first online platform dedicated to teaching people the art of storytelling.

Settle Stories  -The Home of Adventurous Storytelling

Chris Bridgman
Chris Bridgman

Currently freelance – in autumn 2022, programming for Highlights North rural touring scheme, project-managing the RTDI Lab, and Development Producer for Cumbria Arts & Culture Network.Formerly Artistic Director of Arts Out West, the rural touring scheme for West Cumbria. He has experienced rural touring as an actor and director; and other previouswork has included programming Lancaster LitFest; heading North West Playwrights for many years; and leading the creation of the Northern Actors’ Centre.

Elizabeth Freestone
Elizabeth Freestone

Elizabeth is a theatre director and environmentalist. She has directed plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Exchange, the Young Vic, and many companies nationwide.She is the former Artistic Director of Pentabus for whom she directed new plays that toured village halls across the country including Here I Belong and Each Slow Dusk. She is the co-writer of 100 Plays To Save The World, a book about how theatre can help tackle the climate crisis. She is currently studying for a PhD at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.

Lindsay Higgins
Lindsay Higgins

Lindsay is a promoter based in a Somerset village. Keen to bring quality entertainment to the local community, she starting the Hamdon Ha! Ha! comedy club in 2013 and that soon led to promoting live performances from local theatre companies in pubs and village halls.When she discovered rural touring it opened a new door to a world of talent – brought right to the rural doorstep. She retired from a career in engineering project management, and joined the NRTF board in 2022.

John Laidlaw
John Laidlaw

Executive Director of Live & Local since its inception in 1994, John’s background is in small-scale touring, rural touring schemes and the technical management and design of permanent and temporary venues.John previously worked at Warwick Arts Centre in their technical department, Tic Toc Theatre Company as production manager as well as designing and managing venues for their Edinburgh Fringe operations and will occasionally admit to a stint as a stage manager at a Butlins Holiday Camp. He leads Live & Local, the organisation that runs rural touring and film networks across eight counties in the midlands as well as DART, their artist’s development initiative. He was Chair of the NRTF for 10 years.

@Live_Local

Claire Marshall
Claire Marshall

Claire Marshall was the scheme manager of Carn to Cove the rural touring scheme for Cornwall for 17 years until 2022. She is currently General Manager at Mount Pleasant Eco Park - a venue for live music gigs & theatre shows, conferences, workshops and meeting spaces and is also a licensed wedding venue.

The Eco Park is a flexible community venue that also provides high quality workspace for local businesses, organic growing space for local people and training and education in traditional and sustainable skills. It is also the home of Tropical Pressure music festival every July. It is also a Carn to Cove venue! She joined the NRTF board in 2022.

Danny Pedler
Danny Pedler

Danny Pedler runs Take Art Rural Touring programme. This programme enriches Somerset's rural communities through the provision of high quality art to inaccessible locations. 

Danny splits his time with being a folk musician, playing the Accordion and Hurdy-Gurdy. He performs with bands Tarren and Pedler // Russell.

Nicola Pollard
Nicola Pollard

Nicola is a freelance theatre director and Artistic Director of touring company Up The Road Theatre. Based in Nicola’s home county of Kent, Up The Road create new work focused on heritage, history and lived experience, visiting village halls, theatres, schools, arts centres and non-theatre spaces. As a freelancer, Nicola also develops shows for libraries. She is a trained workshop facilitator and is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Up The Road Theatre Website

Hannah Prior
Hannah Prior

Hannah Prior is a theatremaker and arts leader who trained at The Royal Central School Of Speech and Drama. Hannah is the Artistic Director of rural touring scheme Arts Alive and co-founder of participatory theatre organisation Ignition CIC. Hannah is former Chair of The Cultral Consortium Shropshire and a board member for Shropshire’s Cultural Compact. Hannah is an advocate and champion for equity of access in the theatre that enables better creative opportunities for disabled people.

Arts Alive

Barbara Tremewan
Barbara Tremewan

A lifelong love of theatre and the arts and a chance request led to becoming a volunteer promoter in Cornwall 30 years ago and a realisation of the joy of bringing shows to a rural community. Beingon the steering panel to set up Cornwall’s rural touring scheme, Carn to Cove, and being a member of the scheme ever since has reinforced that and made the possibilities so much better.

Carn2cove

Observer
Peter Gregory

Head of Night Out, Wales

Peter is one of the founder members of Nofit State Circus and spent many years touring across the UK in their big top. He has worked extensively in Circus, Theatre, Outdoor and Community arts as a performer, workshop leader, event organiser and administrator. Peter spent five years as Events programme manager at Cardiff Council before moving to rural touring in 2004 as Head of The Night Out scheme at the Arts Council of Wales.

Observer
Jo Royce

Relationship Manager, Touring, Arts Council England

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