Rural Touring Awards Nominees Announced for 2019!

Friday, June 14, 2019
Press Release June 2019

Rural Touring Awards are a shining example of the talent being seen by countryside audiences every year

National Rural Touring Forum is delighted to announce the shortlist for NRTF Rural Touring Awards 2019. Hundreds of performing companies, individuals and groups were nominated this year. It is always a difficult decision to shortlist and decide the winners as the competition is so high.
The Awards celebrate the breadth, passion and professionalism prevalent in the rural touring sector. They also recognise the quality of the arts, the promoters, venues and wider industry. They are an opportunity to draw attention to the quality of performance and performing companies as well as to collaborations and the network of individuals who go above and beyond on behalf of the health and cohesion of their local community. The awards reward not just the winners but everyone who has performed, organised and taken part in Rural Arts & Touring.
Winners will be announced at the Hi-VIS: NRTF Conference 2019, being held in Bangor, Wales 2 – 4 July 2019. Hosting the awards is Kate Fox, stand up poet, who will be joined by the nominees and many from the rural touring sector, including schemes, programmers, directors and performers.
Awards were judged by three industry professionals – Jude Henderson, Director – Federation of Scottish Theatres; Ian McMillan – poet, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster; and Kate Green, Deputy Editor – Country Life Magazine.


Young Person of the Year
Jasmine Lowrie, 20
“I’m surprised by the nomination but honoured to have been nominated and glad to be making a positive impact on rural touring” Jasmin

Sam Pullen, 14
“Sam is clearly an exceptional young person with a bright future in our industry.” Judge

Break Through Performance of the Year
Sophia Hatfield from Stute Theatre
“I am absolutely delighted that the creativity, ambition, passion and hard work of the wonderful team behind Common Lore has been recognised through this nomination”. Sophia

Theatre company Dante or Die “Working with the guest cast members in each location around the country was an absolute pleasure and an inspiration” Dante or Die

Haunted Man by Kindred Theatre  “I enjoyed the description of transforming the space into a theatre, demonstrating that rural touring isn’t always about small, intimate performances.” Judge

Special Award
Karen Jeremiah, Creative Arts East
“I love the idea of her pushing the boundaries of what rural touring can be and do!” Judge

TheatrBara Caws  “I’m excited and moved by the fact that they make shows in Welsh, creating new work in a so-called minority language and challenging the rest of us about our ideas about what art is and what it can be.” Judge

Sian Allen, Arts Alive “I feel honoured and humbled and also a bit thrilled. Rural Touring is such a team effort – I don’t think any one person can ever be assigned particular credit for any aspect of its gloriousness” Sian

Favourite Performance of the Year

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost – Little Earthquake
“We are very proud rural tourers — the network gives us a unique opportunity to connect with, learn from and, most of all, entertain audiences who live outside the catchment areas of major metropolitan arts venues, up and down the country. Our “Favourite Performance of the Year” nomination has come directly from audience members who have experienced and enjoyed our work” Phil

Excalibow by Bowjangles  “We have been Rural Touring for a decade now and it remains one of our favourite things to do as a group. Of course, none of it would be possible without the dedication of the staff organising the scheme menus, the devotion of the volunteer promoters or the enthusiasm of the audiences who make every show we do an absolute delight. We are truly honoured to have been nominated for this award!”

Brilliance by Farnham Maltings “Hearing that your efforts and ambitions chime with peers from across the country is both humbling and hugely motivating. Knowing that it matters, as we all do, that artists can make contemporary, experimental, playful work in village halls is a truth that needs to universally be understood” Gavin Henderson, Farnham Maltings

Touring Scheme Collaboration of the year

The Northern Consortium  Co-working and Partnerships: Five rural touring schemes in the North: Spot On (Lancashire); Cheshire Rural Touring; Arts Out West (West Cumbria); Highlights (East Cumbria, Northumberland, County Durham) and ArtERY live/liveLincs (East Riding of Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire), along with Arts Alive (Shropshire & Herefordshire), Rural Arts (North Yorkshire), form an un-constituted, informal strategic alliance

Carn toCove and Villages in Action  “We are really excited to be part of the rural touring awards this year, as they are becoming an established part of the NRTF year. We are really honoured to be shortlisted, as we know how much great work goes on in our sector and we are very much looking forward to meeting up with colleagues and friends at the Award Ceremony” Claire, Carn to Cove

The InnCrowd  “This is a fabulous, ground-breaking scheme bringing performance to new spaces and bringing new life and new ideas to those spaces” Judge

Voluntary Promoter or Voluntary Promoting Group of the Year

Gaynor Morgan Rees and Gwyneth Kensler  “They have obviously done an amazing job over 20 years – people like this make the world go around” Judge

David Lane  “Thrilled and surprised to be nominated, not just for me, but also for my wonderful team of helpers. Grateful to our audiences who are prepared to give something new a try; to the brilliant performers who thrill and surprise us; and to the fab Head Office staff who are always there to help us.” David

Yvonne Brown and the committee at The Dog Inn, Belthorn  “We are absolutely amazed to be nominated and short-listed for this award. With the help of Spot-on Lancashire, we have brought new and varied arts performances to Belthorn, and these have been well-received, and we intend to continue to offer these experiences. ” Yvonne

More information on the awards and full explanations can be found on the NRTF website –
To hear more about rural touring please visit our website – and watch our film

Arts Council England Chair supports vision for the sustainability of rural arts during visit to brand new National Rural Touring Forum Head Quarters

Press Release1st May 2019

Arts Council England Chair supports the vision for the sustainability of rural arts during a visit to brand new National Rural Touring Forum Head Quarters 

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chairman of Arts Council England met with rural arts organisations at the headquarters of National Rural Touring Forum in the village of Stanford Dingley, West Berkshire. Sir Nick was joined by local ACE National Portfolio Organisations Water Mill Theatre, Corn Exchange Newbury, and personnel from cultural organisations such as LIVR, Metis Theatre, New Adventures, McCurdy & Co., Farnham Maltings and Julie’s Bicycle to discuss the sustainability of rural touring. The group spent time discussing green touring initiatives, the sustainability of rural arts, the relevance of professional rural touring and what it might look like in 10 years’ time. The outcome is an aim for a greater understanding of the potential for rural and green touring in England.

The visit was inspired by the appointment of NRTF Director, Holly Lombardo, the migration of its headquarters to the South East and the alignment of the sector’s ambitions with Arts Council England’s 10 Year Strategy consultation.

Rural communities make up nearly 20% of the UK population. Rural touring not only contributes to local economic growth it increases wellbeing, confidence and a sense of belonging in communities. Nick Serota’s visit marks an important shift in the value being given to rural arts and we are delighted to be leading the discussion”. Holly Lombardo, Director – National Rural Touring Forum

During the meeting, Sir Nick stated how important networks like the NRTF are for supporting the sector, sharing resources and the distribution of data.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Touring is an essential means for many people across the country to experience great arts and culture, particularly those who live in rural areas. But at the same time, we must take into consideration the environmental impact of touring. These calculations are complex, but It was incredibly positive to hear that these questions are front of mind for organisations like the National Rural Touring Forum and its stakeholders. I hope that we will continue to raise the profile and importance of touring, balancing any environmental impact against the need for people who live in rural areas to have the opportunity to experience art and culture

National Rural Touring Forum is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation supporting and promoting the importance of professional rural arts and touring through a network of programming schemes. Each year, across the UK schemes, work with 1,650 promoting groups, undertaking 110,000 voluntary hours, putting on productions to over 332,000 audience members who spend more than £1,000,000 on ticketed events. Rural touring is an innovative and thriving cultural sector equalling out opportunities for countryside audiences to access the arts.

To hear more about rural touring please visit our website – and watch our film

Notes to Editor:
In attendance:

  • Holly Lombardo – Director, National Rural Touring Forum
  • Peter McCurdy – Director, McCurdy & Co.
  • Chiara Biadali – Knowledge and Sector Intelligence Lead,
  • Julie’s Bicycle Charlotte Hall – Head of Programming and Engagement, Corn Exchange Newbury
  • Dawn Badland – Director, Applause Rural Touring
  • Gavin Stride – Director, Farnham Maltings
  • Imogen Kinchin – Executive Director, New Adventures
  • Leo Kellgren-Parker – Founder, LIVR
  • Natalie Jode – Executive Director, Creative Arts East Paul Hart – Director, The Watermill Theatre
  • Tom Speight – Chair, National Rural Touring Forum
  • Zoe Svendson – Artistic Director, Metis Theatre
  • Arts Council
  • Amy Vaughan – Director Touring and Cambridge, ACE
  • Debs Butler – Relationship Manager Touring, ACE South East
  • Hannah Bruce – Relationship Manager Touring, ACE London
  • Sir Nick Serota – Chair, Arts Council England

Photo Credits: Kevin Waldie

Meeting details: Took Place on 29th April 2019, between NRTF head Quarters, Manor Farm, Stanford Dingley and meeting room at The Bull Inn, Stanford Dingley, RG7 6LS

Discussion topic: Green and sustainable touring is what we are all striving for, it helps us work smartly, helps the planet and reduces our environmental impact. The group spent time discussing the sustainability of rural arts, green touring and environmental impact which will contribute to our broader conversations with the touring sector and to help inform ACE national plans for touring.

National Rural Touring Forum: NRTF is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation that networks, supports and advocates for the rural touring sector and as an organisation this enables them to operate in a lean and environmentally sustainable way. HQ in Stanford Dingley is a walk commute for the Director, who works in a small but perfectly formed recycled summer house, with no carbon footprint and shows smart use of limited public funds and resource. This has inspired the provocation.

From Nick Serota’s Guardian interview Nov 2018 on the Arts and Climate Change: 

If we are to avoid irreversible global warming that will have devastating economic and social consequences for the world, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are required. This was the conclusion of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in October. We – the collective “we” – have been given 12 years to arrest climate change. The message is clear: everyone is responsible for creating a more environmentally sustainable world. And the arts and cultural sector is no exception.” Sir Nicholas Serota

Rural Touring on Desert Island Discs with Pam Ayres

Friday, September 7, 2018

The wonderful Pam Ayres gave a fantastic shout out to Rural Touring on Radio 4’s famous Desert Island Discs.

The world of rural touring went mad! Clearly, we’re all Radio 4 listeners, with the clip being shared all over social media and Facebook.

It’s fantastic to have advocates such as Pam giving Rural Touring the national recognition it deserves.

The full show is available to listen to online here: