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


“Throughout my career one tread 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 pooled her knowledge of the cultural sector to found World Fringe Network, which links nearly 300 Fringe Festivals across the globe. As well as this she 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

Projects Manager

Jess is our Projects Manager. In charge of delivering our Libraries and Rural Arts Project. Along side 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.

Stephie Jessop

Communications Manager

Stephie is our Communications manager. She does all NRTF Social media and web comms.

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.

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.

Chris Bridgman


Artistic Director of Arts Out West, the rural touring scheme for West Cumbria. Also programmes the Kirkgate Arts Centre in Cockermouth. He has experienced rural touring as an actor and director; and previous

work has included programming Lancaster LitFest; heading North West Playwrights for many years; and leading the creation of the Northern Actors’ Centre.

Elizabeth Freestone


Elizabeth is a theatre director. She is the former Artistic Director of Pentabus for whom she directed many new plays that toured village halls across the country including Here I Belong and Each Slow Dusk

Her freelance directing work includes productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Greenwich, Theatre 503 and Southwark Playhouse. She has worked at the National Theatre, the Royal Court, Soho and Hampstead. She trained at the National Theatre Studio and Rose Bruford College. Elizabeth has also worked at the BBC and directed plays for Radio 4.

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.


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.

Debs Butler

Relationship Manager, Touring, Arts Council England


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