Springing to life: The Library Presents returns with new arts events 


The Library Presents is making its return to Cambridgeshire libraries and outdoor locations this Spring in an exciting burst of live arts-based events. This year’s Spring Season will officially launch on 23 April, providing audiences with an eclectic selection of workshops, musical events, live theatre and more.  

Back for a ninth consecutive season, The Library Presents’ new Spring programme will build on last year’s success, showcasing a wide array of local and national artists and even some international artists, as well as returning with favourites enjoyed by adult and family audiences in past seasons. Cambridgeshire residents can expect to see over 30 events scheduled in the programme with tickets ranging from £3 to £20 including a family saver and free companion tickets for disabled audience members. 

For those who enjoy music, Shake, Rattle & Roll will get all ages up and moving, focusing on bringing young families together through the love of song and dance. Audiences will hear anything from Bowie to Baroque and Chopin to Chas’n’Dave. On a national tour from Ghana, one of the leading traditional African musical groups, the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers, will bring infectiously funky grooves to local communities, coupled with incredible dance moves in an amazing opportunity to experience traditional Ghana in rural England.

Folk singer Daria Kulesh is described as “one of the finest voices and one of the most intriguing and interesting songwriters on the present folk scene”. Kulesh’s soaring, evocative vocals and vibrant and colourful stories and songs take you on a journey, both historic and personal, through the past in tribute to and celebration of her grandmother and her family and their long-lost homeland of Ingushetia.

Theatre lovers will get the chance to share an adventure with Miss Sherlock Holmes and her companion, Doctor Jane Watson, as part of Lantern Light Theatre Company’s series of short 19th century Sherlock Holmes plays, while those after a magical twist will be treated to a hilarious evening of mind-bending tricks and jokes courtesy of delightful duo, Kane & Abel. Parents with younger children can enjoy the delights of Garlic Theatre’s wonderfully funny and warm-hearted re-imagined celebration of the classic Goldilocks and the three bears, with the help of puppets. 

This programme of events has been developed after Cambridgeshire residents were invited to select from an online menu list of their favourite performances and workshops to see in their local library this Spring.

Certain events run by The Library Presents will include enhanced accessibility so even more audience members are able to enjoy them. These include relaxed performances (autism and neurodiverse friendly), a performance with a BSL interpreter and staff who speak BSL to welcome audiences, and include seating, building access, and toilets to accommodate audience members using mobility aids. 

Service animals will be welcome at all events and audience members can also get in touch to make specific access requests.

Speaking on the upcoming season, Councillor Tom Sanderson, Chair of the County Council’s Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee commented: “I can’t wait for the upcoming season to launch this Spring. I’ve witnessed first-hand how important these events are to our community, so it’s a real privilege to be able to return these for another two Seasons. Arts Council England has agreed funding for the coming year, so we are able to bring a wonderful selection of arts back into our town centres as the days start to grow longer.” 

The Library Presents is run by Cambridgeshire County Council and works in conjunction with Babylon ARTS, based in Ely. Tickets to the upcoming season can be purchased at:  https://www.library.live/the-library-presents-events

For more information, please visit: https://www.library.live/the-library-presents or stay up to date on Facebook and Instagram at: @TheLibraryPresents. 

Cambridgeshire venues holding events for the season include: 

  • Alconbury Weald Cricket Pavillion
  • Arbury Court Library
  • Arbury, Church of the Good Shepherd Community Hall
  • Barnwell – Christ the Redeemer Church
  • Cambourne Library
  • Cambridge Central Library
  • Chatteris Library
  • Cherry Hinton Library
  • Clay Farm Centre
  • Ely Library
  • Histon and Impington Recreation Ground
  • Histon Library
  • Littleport, Yeomans Field
  • March Library
  • Northstowe Community Wing
  • Papworth Village Hall
  • Ramsey Library
  • Sawston – Marven Centre
  • Sawston Library
  • Soham Library
  • St Ives Library
  • St Neots Library
  • Whittlesey Library
  • Wisbech Library

The Library Presents Autumn 2021 – Open Calls

The Library Presents Autumn 2021 - Open Calls

The Library Presents programme currently has two open calls for artists to provide a mix of of performances (indoor & outdoor), digital work and participatory workshops: 

  1. The Library Presents Open Call for Events in Autumn 2021
    • This is an open call for artists to suggest physical, indoor or outdoor material for The Library Presents menu for autumn 2021 (mid Oct-Dec).
    • This Call-Out is open to artists/organisations in the Eastern Region (Beds, Herts, Norf, Suff, Cambs, Esssex, P’boro).
  2. The Library Presents Open Call for In Your House Autumn 2021
    • This is an open call for artists to suggest remote and digital material for The Library Presents In Your House menu for autumn 2021 (mid Oct-Dec). This element of the season will include a mixture of digital work, postal work, radio, window or outdoor projections. The activity you propose should not be freely accessible online already.
    • This Call-Out is open to artists/organisations in the UK.

Deadline for expressions of interest 13 June 2021.  The fee is a maximum of £1000 per activity (excluding VAT).  

Please click here for further information. 
If you are interested in The Library Presents programme, wish to submit an application to our Autumn 2021 season or have any questions surrounding the programme, please sign up to one of the available ‘advice surgeries’ with Florence Rose, Babylon ARTS.
Please sign up to a surgery with your name here, then please email florence.rose@babylonarts.org.uk, with the phone number you wish to be called on, and a brief overview on what you would like to discuss during your surgery. Please provide a website/link to show if relevant.

NRTF and Farnham Maltings announce £10,000 Library Commission Partnership award.

As part of our Touring Arts in Libraries (TAIL) Project, the NRTF is proud to announce a joint commission with Farnham Maltings of £10,000 to create a new piece of theatre for libraries.

Committed to delivering high-quality artistic work and cultural experiences, the NRTF’s TAIL project is about maximising the potential of our nation’s libraries to deliver a programme of touring arts. The Farnham Maltings New Popular programme; a five year initiative supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation tests and creates new theatre with the ambition of reaching broader audiences, in new places with new experiences. It was an obvious opportunity to collaborate. 

Libraries were integral to the communities they served before the lockdowns; now firmly established as an essential service for recovery from the pandemic, uniquely equipped to keeping communities connected and supporting the most vulnerable. 

This creative partnership delivers the Art Council England’s commitment through the Let’s Create Strategy 2020 – 2030 to establishing libraries as “ the first point of access to cultural activity,” it supports the “development of creativity and the promotion of culture across this country,” and provides further evidence for building “stronger, happier communities “ through the arts.

A key aim of the TAIL project is to support existing and new creative work designed specifically for touring in libraries. We see this as a fantastic opportunity for an artist to develop and showcase their creative ideas to libraries in Buckinghamshire and Surrey this Summer with additional funds to support the piece touring to a wider network of libraries across the UK in 2022. This commission will see the creative and public sectors working collaboratively to bring communities back together. 

For more info and to apply visit: https://farnhammaltings.com/artists-and-makers/theatre/producing/new-popular/new-popular-library-commission

The Library Presents In Your House Open Call for Events in Autumn 2020

This is an open call for artists to provide a mix of digital and non-digital content for the second season of ‘In Your House’ from October to December 2020. We hope to receive applications for brilliant small ideas as well as larger scale projects! 

Deadline for expressions of interest 31 July 2020

Artists selected by 21 August 2020

Successful proposals must be ready by 5th October, with project plan and promotional material, and the work ready for release to the public between the 5th October and 18th December 2020. 

“In Your House” a new programme of exciting, fun and interesting arts to enjoy from home! We will programme something for all ages across a range of art forms including; Music, Storytelling, Theatre, Radio Drama, Visual Art, Magic, Animation, Poetry and Craft.

The fee is between £600 and £4,000 per artist (excluding VAT).

Please click here to view further information. 

‘Libraries and Rural Touring Arts’ – maximising the potential of our nation’s libraries

Press Release

January 2020

‘Libraries and Rural Touring Arts’ – maximising the potential of our nation’s libraries

National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) to support touring into Libraries in a new national project funded by Arts Council England.

New figures reveal almost 800 libraries have closed since 2010. National spending has dropped, as has visitor footfall and the number of paid librarians. Libraries also face numerous external challenges, such as the growth of e-books and people increasingly purchasing low-priced books online. Despite this the 3,618 public libraries in the UK are still visited 233.1 million times annually and 77% of people believe that libraries are either essential or very important to their community (The Reading Agency 2018). Research by Arts Council England found that library attendance is positively associated with well-being and has even related to NHS savings of up to £27.5 annually. One way to address user numbers is to increase the opportunity to participate in touring and overcoming embedded sector obstacles of lack of budget, capacity, skills, knowledge and networks.

The National Rural Touring Forum is embarking on an exciting new project funded by Arts Council England. They plan to explore what happens with Libraries and Rural Touring Arts and understanding the challenges library services face in generating new audiences. Can programming quality live art a good way to diversify users and engage the wider community? NRTF will investigate the unique complexities and amazing opportunities in touring live arts into libraries.  The project is also proudly linking across the border working with Welsh Arts Council’s Night Out scheme to develop performances in rural and community libraries in Wales.

James Urquhart, Senior Manager, Arts Council England said: “We are really pleased to be supporting the NRTF to deliver this important initiative which is open to libraries across the country. The programme will enable libraries to explore the programming potential of their spaces by offering a range of resources, networking and go and see opportunities. NRTF plays a key part in supporting the rural touring sector and, by sharing their expertise more widely, communities will be able to connect with arts and culture in their local library.”

Public libraries have an appetite to increase toured-in product but often need extra support, skills, capacity, networks and confidence to achieve this. NRTF will audit the library programming sector by working with Rural Touring Schemes, library services, library networks and venues, learning and expanding on initiatives and activity that is already in place.

“This is an important strategic project for NRTF. We look forward to identifying and responding to the needs of librarians who have the potential to programme work. It is also a great opportunity for artists and performing companies who will potentially have a new set of venues and touring spaces to show their work” Holly Lombardo, NRTF Director

NRTF will create resources and developmental activities, including bursaries and an artistic investment pot to encourage librarians into programming performance in library spaces. NRTF and ACE want to instil confidence, though training, and identify what is needed to utilise and build on librarians’ strengths and priorities to make the most out of cultural events. This is a fantastic opportunity for libraries and artists.

There is a now a live call out for libraries to share their knowledge of putting on live shows.

For more information contact holly@nrtf.org.uk

Holly Lombardo, Director, National Rural Touring Forum www.ruraltouring.org

Notes to Editor:

There are 3,618 public libraries in the UK, and they receive 233.1 million visits annually. 77% of people believe that libraries are either essential or very important to their community (The Reading Agency 2018). Research by Arts Council England found that library attendance is positively associated with well-being and has even been connected with NHS savings of up to £27.5 annually. Despite this, library visits decreased by over 10 million in the last year (CIPFA 2018), and many libraries struggle to afford to employ staff, instead relying on over 50,000 volunteers nationally to run them.

Guardian Article on funding for libraries – December 2019


Rural Services Network article on Libraries – December 2019


“We are working with local and central government to promote this sort of approach, to encourage them to think ‘libraries first’ in delivering services to communities, and ensure that there is recognition of the valuable contributions that library services make to their strategies and priorities.” Michael Ellis MP – Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, October 2018

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspire us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

National Rural Touring Forum is an organisation that networks, develops and supports the delivery of high-quality creative experiences across rural areas in the UK. The aim of the Forum is to strengthen and support rural communities 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.

NRTF provides its members with opportunities for training, making connections, showcases, research, discussion and advocacy. It also develops strategic projects that enable national & international partnerships and commissions. We sit on Arts Council Rural Stakeholders panels to lobby for support in the rural sectors and highlight the importance of meeting the needs of rural audiences and communities. We also lobby at government level and throughout the creative and cultural sectors. Through research and advocacy, the NRTF aims to promote a better understanding of the value of rural arts and touring.

Many Rural Touring Schemes are funded organisations, and some by Arts Council England. This means they can subsidise programmes to bring bigger or more innovative work to their venues. The schemes will spend a lot of their time seeking creative work they believe are suitable and enjoyable for their audiences. They will also challenge audiences to try something new.

One way they do this is through projects such as the Rural Touring Dance Initiative. In 2015 the NRTF joined forces with The Place, Take Art and China Plate to launch a development initiative for making and touring dance performances to and for rural areas.

Across the UK there are currently 30-member schemes, 1,650 promoting groups, 110,000 voluntary hours, 332,000 audience, over £1,000,000 box office sales.