Are you a Village Hall new to rural touring? Start here!

If you’re a venue brand new to rural touring, and not sure how it all works or just looking for some advice on hosting your first event, we’ve gathered together all our most useful links and resources! And if you can’t find the answers in the posts below, remember you can always email us:

NRTF Links
Scheme Specific Links

Promoter Point of View: Why host rural touring events & advice for new venues…

On average it take 58 volunteer hours to host every single rural touring event, which might sound like a daunting task. We asked existing volunteering promoters from across the UK, why they host rural touring events in their venue, and what advice they would give to new venues looking to offer their communities something new…

Why do you host rural touring events in your venue?

‘An opportunity to host quality professional shows that can take us on a magical journey without us leaving our village.’ Des George Neuadd Dyfi

‘Because it’s a total treat to watch fabulous performances in intimate settings such as small village halls. Members of the community who may very well not see anything at all otherwise are given the opportunity for a lovely night out, usually close to home.’ Tricia Meynell – Cumbria

“Live performance must be kept alive. It is a different experience to TV or Cinema and needs nurturing and supporting.  It enriches your venue.” Steve and Fran, Hinton Martell, Tiny venue in Dorset

“…if one young person sees a live performance for the first time, or listens to artists telling them about their road to success, and is inspired, then you have done a good job!

Jan, Allendale Village Hall

“Not for the money, that’s for sure. But the quality and standard of the actors and musicians and dancers etc is wonderful and to see and the number of people who come and say how did we get to be so lucky to have this experience locally. I believe village halls etc are there for many things and if one young person sees a live performance for the first time, or listens to artists telling them about their road to success, and is inspired , then you have done a good job.”  Jan, Allendale Village Hall, promoter for Highlights and others

“It is a real pleasure to bring a show into our community and to see the pleasure it brings to our audiences. These schemes are so important for the more remote communities as they get people out socialising and give a feeling of belonging to an extended community. Our walls have closed in on us enough over the past couple of years and we need to break down the feeling of isolation which many have found.” Graeme, Winterborne Stickland, Artsreach (Dorset)

“Partly because it opens doors for artists to reach communities, but it also allows us to present work that people might not see elsewhere. That diversity of programming is really important. Its also a great way to bring together parts of your community who may be distant from others, but are actually the same – they just might not know it.” John, The Civic Stourport

“To explore all ways of entertaining our community”   DVHall Drayton Langport – On-the-Levels

“We are in a rural village with a large elderly population. They feel more comfortable in smaller venues, especially post Covid” Anonymous

What advice would you give to a village hall or venue approaching Rural Touring for the first time?

“Do it!” Des George Neuadd Dyfi

“Firstly, you’ll know that whatever show you are offered will be top quality, regardless of it’s type. It’s a great way to bring amazing acts to rural communities for not a huge amount of money. Great for community engagement.” Tricia Meynell – Cumbria

“Remember that you are choosing artists for your community not yourselves.  Talk to others about what they would come to.” Steve and Fran, Hinton Martell, Tiny venue in Dorset

“Think about the size of your venue and any particularly useful stand out features (say a high ceiling for acrobats or a recreation ground for outdoor events. Know your audience and old fashioned leaflets thru doors and paper tickets purchased at your local store still works alongside media channels” Jan, Allendale Village Hall, promoter for Highlights and others

More importantly, the rural touring schemes and the NRTF are a great, friendly bunch who want nothing more than to see you succeed!

Graeme, winterborne stickland, artsreach (Dorset)

“Don’t be put off, or feel daunted by the unknown. Yes, there can be a lot of work required to host shows, but there are many other nearby promoters with lots of experience who you can reach out to and be guided / mentored through the process. More importantly, the rural touring schemes and the NRTF are a great, friendly bunch who want nothing more than to see you succeed!”  Graeme, Winterborne Stickland, Artsreach (Dorset)

“Don’t be scared to try something unusual or different – it’s one of the best parts of Rural Touring – finding something different that your audience possibly wouldn’t see at a larger venue.” John, The Civic Stourport

“Make sure you have your ‘target’ audience in-focus. No good relying on your venue ‘faithful’ to turn-out for something they are not sure about.”  DVHall Drayton Langport – On-the-Levels

“Use as many local village facebook groups as possible to advertise” Anonymous

Tell us about your favourite rural touring experience?

“There have been many. Two come to mind “The Chef Show” by Ragged Edge Productions.  Life in a busy Indian restaurant, a brilliantly produced show  which ended up with a superb curry produced by our local curry restaurant. Also Circo Rum bab production of L’Hotel!” Des George Neuadd Dyfi

“Too many to pinpoint one. If the ‘Farnham Maltings’ offer you a show – take it!” Tricia Meynell – Cumbria

“We don’t have a favourite really, but John Etheridge and Vimala Rowe performing sublimely in the church and the Grahams raising the roof of the village hall are particularly powerful memories. Very different, but both so well worthwhile.” Steve and Fran, Hinton Martell, Tiny venue in Dorset

“The dance – Pheonix Dance from Leeds was a high spot, Opera North come each year and hearing them warming up in the hall to sing outside is a heart wrenching moment, Kate Fox explaining thru laughter about her diagnosis of adult autism, King lear being performed as snow stormed down outside , we did not get home till the following evening!” Jan, Allendale Village Hall, promoter for Highlights and others

“We promoted a show called “”Our June’s Wedding”” a few years ago, and the show started with a “”wedding”” in our local chuch, then moved on to a party in the Village Hall. The wedding was officiated over by our local vicar (in full gowns etc) and 90% of the audience turned up dressed for a wedding with all the big hats, posh frocks and suits etc. The atmosphere was brilliant, and the whole “”congregation”” walked to 500m to the Hall en masse only to be told that as they walked they were travelling forward in time by one year!! It was amazing!”  Graeme, Winterborne Stickland, Artsreach (Dorset)

“The first ever show at our venue was a Rural Touring show.  It helped us prove to ourselves, and others that we could do this – that we could run a venue and make it a success. From that we built to taking over the operation of the venue and using it to transform the cultural offering locally.”

john, the civic, stourport

“Mountain Music was an excellent show which combined storytelling with Americana music and was done in the round. ” Anonymous

Anything else you’d like to tell us about or share with new venues and promoters?

“Don’t expect to make a fortune, be prepared to take risks. Always look for quality. The touring schemes are there to help make it happen” Des George Neuadd Dyfi

“Just do it. Advertise locally via email. Build up your own emailing list or see if you can piggy-back an existing one. Social media is invaluable. Posters locally are good, but in my opinion don’t generate much of an interest. Distribute the brochures printed by your local touring scheme in relevant places such as exhibitions/museums/arty places. If you are able to make your own posters they are sometimes better than the official ones you will get sent which tend to over-complicate things with too much text and not enough space for venue details/dates in large lettering. You can use these electronically and the paper ones you get sent for notice boards.” Tricia Meynell – Cumbria

“Don’t give up if you have one difficult show. the next one WILL be better.”

Steve and fran, hinto martell, tiny venue in dorset

“Make the artists welcome, us trustees use the time spent feeding them to join in and have a get together ourselves” Jan, Allendale Village Hall, promoter for Highlights and others

“As per my first comment, never be afraid to ask your local scheme for support and advice.” Graeme, Winterborne Stickland, Artsreach (Dorset)

“Beg, Borrow, and Salvage whetever you can to make your event work – and use whatever you can (if you can) to make it an experience i.e. Serve food or popcorn for a movie; dress up in a costume themed to the event (and encorage audienec to do the same); dress the venue to suit if you can (we had a WW2 era band and we built a sandbagged checkpoint for FOH to check tickets at).  Make it different to seeing a film in the cinema or a show in a larger venue – you are different so be different.” John, The Civic Stourport

“[We] Recently installed a large screen new projector and sound system. We have the Umbrella film license plus music license and are now holding our own monthly film nights which are proving popular. With the kit we now have we can widen the spectrum of entertainment no end.” DVHall Drayton Langport – On-the-Levels

“Don’t panic if early sales are disappointing. Especially with Covid, people in villages seem to leave it late to get tickets” Anonymous

An introduction to Rural Touring Schemes for venues

What is rural touring?

Across the country thousands of rural venues, village halls, community spaces, libraries, schools and pubs host professional artists, performances and events for their community. Musicians, theatre companies and other artists tour to these spaces, alongside urban arts venues, reaching as many audiences as possible.

Rural Touring happens in many different shapes and forms. Some artists and companies organise their own tours independently directly with venues but one of the main ways the NRTF supports rural touring, is by working with Rural Touring Schemes.

What is a rural touring scheme?

Spot On Lancashire performance

A rural touring scheme is a bit like a traditional arts venue… except, instead of organising a programme of events in different rooms of one building, they work with lots of rural venues across a geographical location (usually a county or several).

Rural Touring Schemes, put together a menu of professional art events, for their volunteer promoters and venues to choose from. This means that the people that live in those rural communities, that know their venue and their audiences the best, can choose the show that best fits for them, while also having the confidence, that the Rural Touring Scheme has put together a quality offer. Often Rural Touring Schemes will have seen the shows they are offering in advance or will have worked with the artist before.

The promoters and venues then choose one or two events from this menu, and let the Schemes know which shows they’d be interested in and wat dates work for them. The scheme will then look at all the expressions of interest from all their venues and start to piece together the jigsaw… making sure that the venues have chosen shows that physically fit in their spaces, ensuring that the artist dates are spread out across the county so that you don’t have two venues next to each other trying to host the same thing etc.

Then the artists, promoters and venues, and the Rural Touring Scheme all work together to market the events. The promoter and venue are responsible for selling tickets, setting up their own box office in a way that works for them. The artist will provide the venues with all the leaflets and marketing materials they need, and the Rural touring Scheme will put together a season brochure (like the one you might get from your local arts venue) which has all the shows happening in their area in, and they’ll also look after their website and social media.

This is the basic Rural Touring Scheme model. There are around 30 Rural Touring Schemes across the UK. Each one works slightly differently depending on their size and how they are funded, but the majority are funded by Arts Council England (or Arts Council Wales/Creative Scotland). This means they can support venues in covering the fees for the artists, but how each Scheme does this is slightly different.

How do I get involved with a scheme?

You can find your nearest Rural Touring Scheme by browsing our Scheme Directory here. The map pin points are based on where the Schemes main office is but they often cover the whole county. If you have trouble finding your scheme, email us and we can help.

Once you have found your local scheme you can contact them directly about becoming a promoter. You’ll find on most scheme websites they have more information about how they specifically work with volunteers and venues and a direct number or email address for you to contact them on

What if there isn’t a scheme that covers my area?

There are a handful of places in the UK not currently covered by a scheme (and we are all working to change that). If you think your venue is in one of these areas, contact us to make sure. As we mentioned before, there are ways of hosting professional rural touring events without being part of a scheme, and we can point you in the right direction for finding out about companies, or independently seeking out funding for your area.

It is also always worth making yourself known to your nearest scheme, even if they don’t currently cover your area. If they know that there is a venue near them actively wanting to promoter arts events, they can often help in other ways. Whether that is pointing artists who have spare dates in your direction, or linking you up with other organisations in your area.

Join us in Celebrating Village Halls Week 2020 with ACRE – Call Out

We are joining ACRE to celebrate Village Halls Week 2021 from the 25th January, and we are asking you to get involved by doing one or more of the following 3 things:

1. Send us a photo of your village hall!

We want to see your local village hall in all it’s glory. This could be from the outside, or indoors, you may have a photo of a fantastic rural touring event you hosted, or you may want to take one of the hall empty (but full of possibilities). We will use these photos across our social media and website during Village Halls Week with full credit for the photographer. We may also ask permission to use the photo beyond Village Halls Week.

We’re not limiting this to promoters, if you’re an artist or a scheme, and happen to have a fantastic Village Hall photo we’d love to see those too!

Email your photo to

Including the name of your village hall, and where it is, and any credits you would like given to the photographer.

2. Send us a limerick or short statement about what your hall means to you!

We want to know what your hall or Village Halls, in general, mean to you, and we’d like to encourage you to get creative with it! You’ve never let us down in the past! There’s no limit on words or sentences, but we would like to use whatever you send us on social media, so best to keep it fairly short. 

You can send your limerick/story/statement/drawing/memories to again including the name of your local village hall and where it is. Or you can post on social media yourself (preferably during Village Halls Week) making sure to tag us @ruraltouring on twitter

3. Request a copy of our poster for our previous Village Hall Week Poems

If you’d like a copy of our previous Village Halls Week poems to display proudly in your hall or community notice board please leave us your details here and we will endeavour to send them out to you in time for Village Halls Week. Our posters are A4. To request a poster to be sent out to you, by emailing with the name of your Village Hall and your postal address.

About Village Halls Week

Village Halls Week is a national celebration of the 10,000+ village halls which can be found across England, their volunteers and the difference they make to the rural communities they serve.

Our 2021 campaign will be a celebration of how village halls are survivors. Many have been bringing people together in rural communities since the 1920s. And in the past year, the volunteers who manage these buildings have shown great determination and resilience in the face of Coronavirus, negotiating lockdowns and putting in place Covid Secure measures so they could continue supporting their local community.

As social gatherings are currently off limits, Village Halls Week will look at bit different in 2021. In the past ACRE Network members have hosted various events across the country but this year we will be moving this activity online in the spirit of the times.

Find out about what ACRE have planned here:

How I Got Involved with my Village Hall and Rural Touring

Today marks the start of Village Halls Week 2020 and to mark the occassion we asked the Chair of the NRTF, Tom Speight to tell us a little more about how he came to be involved with his village hall and rural touring.

The Watson Institute, Cumbria

Sometimes it’s the ticket sales. But more usually it’s the positioning of the lights. Or the whereabouts of the corkscrew(s). Or working out how to squeeze another five seats in for late arrivals. Or juggling the dietary requirements of the actors who I’ve offered to feed before the show. But whatever the worries of being a village hall rural touring promoter, it’s always great fun and immensely satisfying.

I first took an interest in what I later learnt was called “rural touring” back in 2007 when I was working as the News Editor at BBC Radio Cumbria in Carlisle. Occasional press releases would come my way, advertising what sounded like ridiculously high quality, professional performance art – drama, music, comedy, magic, even dance – all taking place in the extensive network of village halls that pepper a rural county like Cumbria. I was intrigued. How on earth did that happen? How did they get such astonishing calibre of artists? How did this process work? Could I get them to my hall?

Trio Dhoore, November 2019 performing at The Watson Institute

I dug a little deeper, and before I knew it, I had become what is known in the rural touring world as a “promoter”. That is, a volunteer who makes an event happen in their village hall (there are currently 1,700 of us across rural England, Wales and Scotland).

My village of Castle Carrock has 270 people living in it, located 10 miles east of Carlisle, on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We lost our shop a few years ago when the proprietor died and no one stepped in. But we still have a good pub, a thriving school, a church and a village hall, The Watson Institute. And so we have enough amenities to keep some kind of community spirit going – so long as people use them. And hosting rural touring shows has been a crucial mechanism to keep the hall busy and talked about.

Shoo Shoo Baby performing at The Watson Institute, December 2019

I became the Chair of the hall 10 years ago because I wanted to see if I could offer some new ideas and some new energy, including bringing shows to life. People on the hall committee had done brilliant work in keeping things ticking along but like many voluntary institutions, new blood with new ideas and most importantly, new energy is always needed. The Watson Institute is a very special place. Built in 1897 by the richest family in the village originally as a Reading Room, it’s now a wonderfully intimate village hall and venue where I can seat 65 people at a push, cabaret-style, small tables, candles, subdued lighting and a small stage that I borrow from the school next door. I love being involved. I love the challenge of choosing a show which I think will work for my audience (my reputation is constantly on the line !). I love witnessing people coming together. And I love experiencing – and sharing – superb performance art on my doorstep. It continues to be a blast.

The Watson Institute

This season The Watson Institute are hosting one of our Rural Touring Dance Initiative shows ‘Louder is Not Always Clearer’ on Saturday 7th March, 8pm. The Watson Institute is part of Highlights Rural Touring. Find out more here.

Tom Speight can be found on twitter @tomspeight

Guest Blog: Blaize Village Halls Week Interview with Worlaby Village Hall promoter

Friday, January 25, 2019

This Week is National Village Halls Week, and the NRTF have teamed up with ACRE to celebrate along with our rural touring schemes, promoters and artists. All week we will be releasing new content here on the blog and over on our Social Media to celebrate just how much Village Halls do for their community.

Today we have a guest blog post from Blaize who deliver Rural Touring events through Live Lincs and Artery. To find out more about Blaize and their programming visit their website. 

Remember if you have a Rural Touring Story you’d like to share, email us!

Here at Blaize, we join the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) to celebrate #VillageHallsWeek! Village venues play a vital role in the lives of many rural communities.  Today we hear from one of our valued promoters, Richard Beeforth, who is responsible for our Live Lincs’ events at Worlaby Village Hall in North Lincolnshire. Richard explains;

Worlaby is a small village in North Lincolnshire but despite its size, it has great community spirit and is a nice place to live. The village pub closed some years ago so our village hall is the hub for most community activity and is very well used. We have a fairly new village hall and our Village Hall Committee works hard to maintain and improve it. 

The Live Lincs rural touring scheme has been superb for Worlaby and the surrounding area. Not only providing quality entertainment for our residents but providing much-needed income for the upkeep of the hall. Because the quality of acts has been consistently high, it makes it easy for me, as a promoter, to sell tickets. I usually only have to put out a promotion email to our locals and the demand for tickets comes flooding in!

We usually fill the hall which creates a great atmosphere for the entertainers as well as providing a memorable night for the residents.  As a promoter of the scheme for Worlaby, the most rewarding time is getting good feedback from our audience after a performance. I then feel satisfied that I have chosen well! It’s particularly rewarding when the entertainers also provide good feedback that we have looked after them well.

Thanks to my wife Pam and our volunteer helpers, performers always get well fed at Worlaby!

I hope the funding for this scheme continues and Blaize continues to provide such a high standard and diverse mix of entertainers. Long may it continue!

Richard Beeforth
LiveLincs Promoter.

How The NRTF Works with Village Halls – and how you can join in!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Water Yeat Village Hall, a Highlights Rural Touring Venue

This week is National Village Halls Week and across the country thousands of village halls are hosting special events, on top of their already packed schedules, to celebrate.

Village Halls are integral to the work of rural touring.  Of course, rural touring events happen in spaces of all shapes, sizes and varieties. From community centres to libraries, but Village Halls play a huge role in providing their communities with arts and culture activities, through rural touring and otherwise.

But how does the NRTF work with these village halls?

Through Schemes

Our main link to village halls is through the Rural Touring Schemes. Schemes cover specific geographical areas and most will put together a programme of events, like any theatre or venue would do, across a season. However, instead of programming several rooms or spaces within one building they are programming work across whole areas, using Village Halls and other community venues.

The NRTF works closely with Schemes to advocate for arts and culture within rural areas and to support them in being able to continue our joint mission of making every village a cultural hub.

You can find your nearest Rural Touring Scheme here.

Through Specific Projects

As well as supporting schemes in their core work, the NRTF is also a partner in a number of projects which directly help Village Halls and Schemes to deliver high-quality performances in their spaces and areas.

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is one such project. Contemporary dance suitable for rural spaces is hard to come by – the RTDI aims to change that! We work with dance companies to think about how they can make work suitable for rural spaces, and we work with schemes and promoters to help them build audiences.

Another project we are currently helping to deliver is a Social Impact Study ‘CONCERTA’ which has been a national research project into how rural touring impacts rural areas, from delivering culture on your doorstep to making long term social and economic impacts on a community.

You can find out more about Our Work here.

Via our Membership

If you’re a Village Hall promoter already associated with a scheme then you can join the NRTF as a member. This gives you access to our discussion boards where you can pose questions and discuss rural touring with colleagues nationally. You’ll receive weekly bulletins which highlight funding opportunities along with other things, and you’ll get access to some small grants and early access to conferences and other events.

If you’re a village hall and you’re not yet associated with a local Rural Touring Scheme then we can help put you in touch! And if there isn’t a scheme in your area (very unlikely) then we can help connect you to rural touring artists and other projects.

Find out more about becoming an NRTF member here.

Guest Blog: Blaize interview Jazz Musician Dave Newton

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

This Week is National Village Halls Week, and the NRTF have teamed up with ACRE to celebrate along with our rural touring schemes, promoters and artists. All week we will be releasing new content here on the blog and over on our Social Media to celebrate just how much Village Halls do for their community.

Today we have a guest blog post from Blaize who deliver Rural Touring events through Live Lincs (North Lincolnshire) and Artery (East Yorkshire).

To find out more about Blaize and their programming visit their website. 

Remember if you have a Rural Touring Story you’d like to share, email us

This week, (22-28 Jan) The National Rural Touring Forum highlights the vital role that village halls can play in rural communities.

Here at Blaize, we decided to join the celebrations! We decided it would a good idea to hear from one of the acts we commissioned about their experiences of touring small venues. Last season audiences in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire couldn’t get enough of jazz musicians, Dave Newton and Alan Barnes and having heard them play, we can understand why. The two have been playing duets together for over 40 years. These multi award-winning performers cover a vast repertoire from Louis Armstrong to Chick Corea. Their fantastic music, coupled with their interaction with smaller, more intimate audiences is what made each of their tour dates with us such a fabulous success. We spoke to Dave about what it was like for him, playing to audiences in village venues. Here is what he shared with us.

Q. Ok, Dave, so you’ve obviously performed to audiences large and small – what’s the largest audience you’ve ever played before and what’s the smallest? (roughly) Which do you prefer (if any) and why?

A. The largest physical audience I can remember was when I played as part of the support group for a Frank Sinatra concert at Ibrox football stadium and that was about 10,000 people but playing live solo piano for radio broadcasts on Radio 2 where the audiences would have been in hundreds of thousands was probably more nerve-wracking. As to the smallest, I sometimes play for people in their house and that can be to as little as ten folk lounging on easy chairs in a nice room with a lovely grand piano that might not get used very often. I really don’t have a preference. I enjoy playing in most settings.

Q. What do you like about rural touring? You build a very good rapport with your audience – does it feel more intimate in a rural setting? What is the secret of connecting with an audience – is it easier or harder in a smaller venue?

A. Rural touring for the most part, means playing to people that are unfamiliar with jazz or improvised music but having it brought closer to them means it’s easier to pluck up the courage and go and see for themselves that it’s not as esoteric, discordant or unfathomable as some would have them believe. In fact, if delivered with some humour, it can actually be quite entertaining. The village hall is a wonderful setting to hear acoustic music as you are up close and there’s no distraction which give the listener the chance to absorb themselves in the music completely.

Q. Do you have any anecdotes about rural touring you could share with us?

A.I can’t think of any anecdotes other than the apologies forthcoming from a lady who was running one particular village hall who was five minutes late in arriving because she’d been up in the hills ‘doing the lambing’ all afternoon and had forgotten the time! They really are fantastic people who deserve fantastic music.

Q. Is it difficult being on the road, driving long distances away from home or is it just something you get used to?

A. I love getting into the car and going somewhere new so it’s always been 50% of the job for me and as a result, nowhere feels obscure, just different.

Q. Why do you think rural touring is important? Should we make an effort to do more of it? 

A. The feedback from our rural audiences has been marvellous and very vocal from people who once lived in cities but now live a country life and are thrilled the city has come to them for a change.

Q. Is it difficult working in smaller halls with equipment etc and sound?

A. We have never had any technical difficulties as there’s only the two of us and there’s never a shortage of plug points or anything of that nature. In fact, it’s usually much easier to get in and out of village halls as you can get the car right up to the door!

Q. What would you say to other large acts considering the rural touring circuit? 

As long as a group has keyboard equipment of their own, I would encourage anybody to get involved in rural touring if I thought their music was the right mixture of ingredients. I can only reiterate my observation of earlier, that the audiences and especially the volunteers, really are fantastic people who deserve fantastic music.

If you’re an artist looking to get more involved with Rural Touring then be sure to check out NRTF Membership here.