Meet the team

The National Rural Touring Forum is proud of its team. We are a small organisation but have the knowledge and ambition to make big changes.

Holly Lombardo


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.



Jess Huffman

Communities & Projects Manager

Sustainability Champion
Venue and promoter champion

Jess is our Projects Manager. In charge of delivering our Libraries and Rural Arts Project. Alongside this, she supports the members and the coordination of the NRTF’s yearly events programme. Jess is also a freelance event and festivals manager specialising in arts, oral history, and community-based projects.

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. The company has been touring work since 2010 both nationally and internationally.
Hattie has previous experience in project management and marketing support for charities with a particular interest in delivering 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.

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

Eamon Foreman

Marketing & Digital Coordinator

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

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.


Tom Speight,


Tom is a rural touring Promoter, having put on over 40 shows in the past 12 years in his village in north Cumbria. Tom was on the board of Highlights, the rural touring scheme in the North of England for 6 years before joining the NRTF board in 2016.

Tom’s also put on an annual 4-day music festival called Music on the Marr since 2010. He works for the BBC and plays ukulele.

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.

Dawn Badland


Dawn is the Director of Applause Rural Touring which works across Kent and Sussex. Passionate about developing a multi-strand rural touring network.

Dawn has introduced a popular unique Outdoor touring and commissioning programme and is keen on working in partnerships to extend opportunities for artists and audiences. With a fine arts education background, she occasionally gets to make art as well as support others to create.

Ed O’Driscoll


Ed’s experience in the art world combines a successful career as a commercial theatre producer with that of performer and arts professional. As a producer, he has created and toured more than

twenty number one productions including stage adaptations of ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Porridge’ and ‘Shaun the Sheep’ – the last of which played in the Middle East after 12 months on the road in the UK. In front of the curtain he was principal performer in the hit concert ‘Masters of the Musical’ for more than a decade presenting at more than 100 UK venues each year. In addition to these commitments he also founded the rural touring scheme ‘Arts in Rural Gloucestershire’ (AIR in G) in 2000 and has worked for the charity since that time as Executive Director. He is also a founding member and Director of ‘Create Gloucestershire’ and has recently completed an MA in Social Media and at Birmingham City University; his research focused on crowdfunding for arts organisations.

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. Being

on 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.

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.

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.

Claire Marshall


Claire Marshall is Director of Carn to Cove and C Fylm, which is the rural touring performing arts scheme for Cornwall. Carn to Cove supports a network of 95 village halls and community spaces and 400 voluntary promoters that presented 93 high quality live performances for 5068 rural audiences in 2021/22. Alongside the live events programme, C Fylm is the network of 40 film clubs which screens over 300 screenings to a membership of over 2,000 people each year.

Carn to Cove is a Dance Ambassador scheme for the Rural Touring Dance Initiative and has been building up a dance network of promoters and audiences over the last several years. The volunteer promoters are gaining in confidence in programming contemporary dance and facilitating workshops to allow participation and learning from visiting artists. They are encouraged to take risks in their programming and supported to present work that can be challenging for rural audiences.
Carn to Cove was one of the associate partners in the SPARSE (Supporting and Promoting Arts in Rural Settlements of Europe) project, which used the UK rural touring model to set up schemes in Estonia, Italy, Lithuania and Romania. The SPARSE network is alive and kicking and now comprises of 11 partner organisations across Europe.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Peter Gregory

Head 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.

Jo Royce

Relationship Manager, Touring, Arts Council England


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