A theatre maker’s attempt to make his work more accessible, and how venues/organisations might be able to help
Paul O’Donnell is a solo theatre maker and over the past year, has been using Talking Birds‘ accessibility tool The Difference Engine to deliver captioning and audio description on every performance of the UK tour of his show We’ve Got Each Other. With funding from Arts Council England, he has created a resource pack for artists, companies and organisations to share the learning and experience he gained during the project. It also includes case studies and a list of other resources.
The Fear of Access
Hello, I’m Paul O’Donnell, a solo theatre maker, performer and producer who has set out on the task of trying to make my solo show We’ve Got Each Other more accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. The show was captioned and audio described using Talking Birds’ Difference Engine, which is covered in more detail on page 4.
My journey started at the East Meets West Symposium run by Little Earthquake in 2017, where I timidly raised my hand in a discussion about access. I explained that I, like a lot of artists, wanted to make my work more accessible, but felt there were two things that were preventing me from doing so: 1. the fear, and 2. the cost. I believe that these two barriers are prohibiting artists like me from giving it a try for fear of getting it wrong, saying/doing the wrong thing or being branded ‘tokenistic’, or being unable to sustainably resource access as an integral part of their practice; the cost of making the show more accessible for the 2019 tour consumed a big chunk of my under £15k ACE application – more on this later.
But, in that room the response I received was “Well, isn’t it better to do something than nothing at all?” and so I thought, “I guess I’d better do ‘something’ then”. My terrifying journey into ‘access’ had begun and I realised that to combat that fear of getting it wrong, I had to dive in head first, make all the mistakes and learn from them. I am still learning.
“Isn’t it better to do something than nothing at all?”
Since then I have:
Engaged in a process of making the audio descriptions and captions for We’ve Got Each Other a creative rather than just functional output.
Captioned and Audio Described all 23 shows in my 2019 UK tour of We’ve Got Each Other using the Difference Engine.
Welcomed in 38 audience members who usually wouldn’t be able to access my work.
Engaged 3 deaf or blind focus groups to refine this service and my understanding.
I should note that I am not deaf or blind myself and that I understand and believe that deaf and blind individuals need to be leading on discussions around their access requirements. I do however feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that access for all is considered in their creative work. In this pack, I am particularly following the social model of disability with the belief that deaf and disabled individuals are only disabled by the systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusions that society presents. This pack is me doing what I can to challenge and change those barriers.
This pack is in part me sharing the lessons learnt through this process with you, in the hope that if you were to consider embarking on your own journey, it might be just that little bit easier. I also hope to share some of the issues independent artists like me are facing in making access a natural part of their processes. Ironically enough, for independent artists like me access currently feels a little… inaccessible.
For venues/organisations, I hope this might also encourage you to consider what support you can offer independent artists to help combat these barriers in order to make this a sustainable part of all of our practices. I truly believe it can only be achieved as a sector-wide effort, and have to remind us that technically, by law, we all should have started ten years ago now (Equalities Act 2010).
Call out for Actor for new Rural touring show – Autumn 2020
Arts Alive are looking for a mature performer with a playing age of 45+ who has experience in creating devised theatre work. The performer will work with our Director and Designer to shape the show.
The Performer will ideally have a good quality singing voice and play at least one musical instrument. They will have strong physical theatre skills and will be a confident and engaging storyteller. Some puppetry experience would also be beneficial.
Audition Date; 20 January 2020, 11.30 – 4pm, The Hive , 5 Belmont, Shrewsbury SY1 1TE
Devising Dates; 14-16 Sept 2020 – in Shrewsbury
Rehearsal week; 5- 9 Oct 2020 – in Shrewsbury
Tour Dates; 12- 16 Oct, 19- 23 Oct 2020. Across venues in Shropshire. Technician for the show will be driving a van to get to the rural venues.
(Possibility of a third week of touring , awaiting funding decision.)
Actor will need to hold a current DBS check.
Arts Alive is the rural touring scheme for Shropshire and Herefordshire www.artsalive.co.uk and in partnership with MediaActive Projects , a creative media and moving image organisation
www.mediaactive.org was awarded Celebrating Age funding through Arts Council England. Following two years of artist led work with older people 55+, the creative material developed by participants will contribute to the shaping of the touring performance piece.
The performer will be accompanied by a technician on tour.
Fee; £3,600 -18 days work at £200 daily.
The successful actor will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation during the performance, devising, and rehearsal process.
Arts Alive is interested in performers that reflect the diversity of our nation and has an inclusive approach to opportunities for all.
To apply; please send a CV (in any format) plus either a link to an online showreel or a 1 minute performance clip captured on your phones showcasing storytelling skills to firstname.lastname@example.org
Spot On have secured funding from Arts Council England to commission an outdoor arts performance in 2020. This is the second commission in what we hope will be a long series of commissions over the next few years.
The plan is for the finished piece to premiere at Thompson Park, Burnley in summer 2020 with additional performances in other locations in Lancashire between July and September.
Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Take a look at the full brief and make an application.
Champion of rural touring, John Laidlaw of Live & Local and National Rural Touring Forum (Sector) receives MBE in Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. Each recipient exemplifies the very best of our nation.
John has played a significant role in developing the rural arts touring sector in this country, helping bring local communities together to enjoy high-quality professional live theatre, music and dance shows.
John Laidlaw said:
‘Initially flabbergasted and then honoured and then when I found out how it had happened, hugely grateful to all the people who had supported the process. It’s great to be recognised personally for something that you’ve put most of your working life into… but I also think it is a great accolade for the Rural Touring sector. Without the dedication of many other people over many years getting the sector to the scale and respect it now has, the MBE wouldn’t have been possible.’
Holly Lombardo, Director of National Rural Touring (NRTF) said:
‘We are thrilled that someone in Rural Touring has been awarded such esteemed recognition. John has had such a huge and positive influence on the sector and the National Rural Touring Forum directly. His ten years at the helm of NRTF were instrumental in broadening the national feel and influence of the rural touring sector. We at NRTF feel this is acknowledgement for the whole sector and all who work tirelessly for Rural Arts’
About John Laidlaw:
John Laidlaw studied Estate Management, Geomorphology and Archaeology at Reading University between 1974 to 1978, but his love of student theatre led him to work as a stage manager, first at Butlins (Filey, North Yorkshire), and then at the De la Warr Pavilion in East Sussex. He then went to Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry ending up as acting Chief Electrician.
From 1985-1991, he was the Production Manager for the Tic Toc Theatre Company in Coventry who ran temporary performance spaces at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival each year. The company also produced small-scale touring theatre shows each year to equipped and non-equipped venues, two local community tours and ran their own alternative comedy club. The company converted an old bingo hall in Coventry into the Tic Toc which would later become the Kasbah Nightclub.
In 1992, he was contracted to run the touring scheme in Warwickshire ultimately becoming Executive Director of Live & Local which has now become one of the largest Rural Touring networks within the UK, working across eight counties in the Midlands. In a volunteer capacity, John served as Chair of the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) for a decade until July 2017. Through his work on the board and as Director of Live & Local he has helped to bring professional art and artists to under-served rural communities in every corner of the UK. Within his work for the NRTF he has also helped other countries to develop their rural touring networks, including Australia and New Zealand.
About Live & Local:
The Live & Local Rural & Community Touring Scheme began in 1992. It supports a network of voluntary organisations bringing their communities together to enjoy entertaining, affordable and professional live theatre, storytelling, music, dance and film screenings in their local village hall, church or school. Developing out of a Warwickshire scheme that had originally started in 1987, Live & Local expanded to Staffordshire in 1995, Derbyshire in 2002, Worcestershire in 2011, and Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland in 2015. Today Live & Local is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation co-ordinating over 650 theatre, music, film and dance performances in 250 rural communities across eight counties attended by around 34,000 people every year.
Live & Local initiated DART (Developing Artists & Art for Rural Touring) in 2013 thanks to initial funding from Worcestershire County Council. DART has supported nearly 50 artists/ companies wishing to work within rural communities, with mentoring, bursaries, and connections to audiences/ promoters. The initiative has also supported the creation of new and exciting work for rural/ community touring audiences.
Big Picture Show is a community cinema service provided by Live & Local which enables communities to programme films in their local halls, with everything needed from the technical set-up to marketing materials.
About National Rural Touring Forum:
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.
‘The rural touring sector is essential in ensuring that rurally isolated communities secure and maintain access to high-quality arts provision and the part John has played as Chair of NRTF has been essential in ensuring that these communities’ benefit from a nationwide network of support and provision.’ Peter Knott, Area Director, Midlands, Arts Council England
‘John has expanded the provision of high-quality arts and entertainment throughout the midlands bringing thousands of professional shows to under-served rural communities.’ David Porter, Company Secretary to the NRTF board
‘Through John’s leadership of the NRTF a strong cross-pollination of ideas and experiences has informed and enlivened the work that we do in Western Australia and is creating opportunities for UK artists and promoters in the UK and beyond.’ Philippa Maughan, Investment Director, Country Arts WA (Western Australia)
‘We are thrilled that someone in Rural Touring has been awarded such esteemed recognition. John has had such a huge and positive influence on the sector and the National Rural Touring Forum directly. His ten years at the helm of NRTF were instrumental in broadening the national feel and influence of the rural touring sector. We at NRTF feel this is acknowledgement for the whole sector and all who work tirelessly for Rural Arts’ Holly Lombardo, Director of National Rural Touring (NRTF)
For interviews or more information please contact: Johanna Dorey or Mollie Davidson at Live & Local on 01926 402 173 or email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org or Holly Lombardo, Director, National Rural Touring Forum. For more information contact email@example.com 07905896303 (private number for Journalists only)
NOTES TO EDITORS
Live & Local should always be presented with an ampersand. The company is not known by any other variation of this spelling.
Live & Local co-ordinates a rural & community touring scheme helping a network of over 250 village halls and community venues – in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire (Shindig), Leicestershire & Rutland (Centre Stage), Lincolnshire (Lincolnshire Rural Community Touring) and Nottinghamshire (Village Ventures) – choose and promote professional entertainment: from music, theatre, storytelling and dance, to magic, puppet and children’s & family shows. For more information visit: liveandlocal.org.uk
Live & Local is one of over 27 similar schemes across the UK who are represented by the National Rural Touring Forum, making it possible for local people to enjoy professional performances in a venue close to home. Combined these schemes promote over 2,800 shows every year, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people in over 2,000 rural communities from the Scottish Islands to the Isle of Wight. For more information visit: ruraltouring.org
Live & Local shows are supported by County, District and Borough Councils, Arts Council England and local volunteer promoters.
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) is given for an outstanding achievement or service to the community. It is intended that this award will have a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others. For more information visit: gov.uk/honours/types-of-honours-and-awards
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.
Spot On have secured funding from Arts Council England to develop a new digital arts strand. This will be the first commission in what they hope will be a long series of commissions over the next few years.
The plan is for the finished piece to ‘tour’ to libraries and village halls across Lancashire in October/November 2019 with a possible launch during National Libraries Week in 7-12 October 2019. At the beginning of December, the work will be shared nationally as part of our new digital gallery on the Spot On Website.
Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Take a look at the full brief and make an application.
Deadline: Monday 1st July, 12 noon.
Download the brief ‘Spot On digital commission 2019 call out brief’ from the box on the right.
North East Arts Touring(NEAT)are delighted to announce that they have been awarded twoyear funding from the Young StartNational Lottery Community fund to continue and develop their Young Promoters Scheme. The initiative is aimed at young people aged 13 –25 years; enabling them to programme professional theatre productions and cinema screenings in their communities. The scheme focuses on empowering young people to become active volunteer promoters in their community while learning transferable skills in event and arts management.
The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that North East Arts Touring has been successful in securing Young Start funding. This award will make a big difference to the lives of local young people who will be at the heart of both project design and delivery. I wish the Young Promoters Scheme every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project to help young people reach their potential.”
The scheme was initiated by North East Arts Touring’sactive role in the creation of Youth Arts Collective North East, as part of Creative Scotland’s “Time to Shine” Initiate.The Young Promoters Scheme was delivered in partnership with Aberdeen International Youth Festival in 2015.
Since its initiation ithas gone from strength to strength with over 312 young people in rural towns and villagesacrossAberdeenshire learningskills in programming and promoting professional theatre and dancein their community,with a further 2956 young people engagedin a range of creative learning and performance-basedopportunities.Adrianna Butka a young promoter from Banff, said “Through the process of the scheme it was amazing to work with arts professionals and know your part of something big. Promoting these shows gives me a big boost of confidence”
As an outcome of the project, NEAT is delightedto see a significant rise in young people attending professional theatre and danceperformances in rural communities.Lynn Shaw, NEAT’s Young Promoters Coordinator, said “Many of the young people we work with are isolated either geographically or through social deprivation. Up until now the scheme has been delivered in areas such as Banff, Whitehills, Alford and Peterhead. Receiving support from the Young Start fund will give us the opportunity to reach out to more young people in other rural communities across Aberdeenshire”
This is the only scheme of its kind in Aberdeenshire. Emyr Bell, Executive Director of the organisation, said, “Creativity plays such an important part in the development of young people, having the opportunity to learn life-long and transferable skills is vital; we are so excited to embark on this new phase of the project through support from Young Start.”The scheme will restart at the beginning of June2019.
Arts Council England Chair supports vision for the sustainability of rural arts during 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. The outcome is an aim for a greater understanding of the potential for rural and green touring in England.
One of the top priorities of NRTF is advocacy on behalf of the sector. 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 ambitions of the sector 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 Sertoas visit marks an important shift in the value 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”
NRTF is an ACE National Portfolio Organisation supporting and promoting the importance of the rural arts and touring sector. With 30 member schemes, 1,650 promoting groups, 110,000 voluntary hours, 332,000 audience, over £1,000,000 box office sales this is a thriving sector, that via high-quality programming and commissioning, delivers community cohesion in rural settings and touring opportunities for performing companies.
Across the UK there are currently 30 NRTF member schemes who annually work with 1,650 promoting groups, undertaking 110,000 voluntary hours, putting on productions to 332,000 audience members, who spend over £1,000,000 in box office sales.
To hear more about rural touring, please visit our website – www.ruraltouring.org and watch our film https://www.ruraltouring.org/work/rural-touring-advocacy-film
The consortium seeking to bring more dance to rural venues is on the lookout for artists to take part in its next phase
The project is supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme and an award from Arts Council Wales
The RTDI is keen to maintain a diverse programme and is interested in hearing from BAMER, disabled artists and those creating work suitable for children and families in particular
Application deadline: 12 noon, Thursday 5 th September 2019
The Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI), a partnership between The Place, Take Art the National Rural Touring Forum and China Plate has launched a call out for dance artists to tour their work to rural spaces across the UK. The project is made possible by a second major award from Arts Council England Strategic Touring program and an award from Arts Council Wales.
The project, which has previously supported artists including Lost Dog, Protein, Joan Cleville, Uchenna Dance and bgroup, is an opportunity to tour existing work to rural locations. In addition to guaranteed show fees there is a limited number of bursaries averaging £1200 for artists with existing shows to adapt shows for rural touring. Companies who have toured with the RTDI have averaged 7 supported shows with fees varying from £850 to £1400 depending on scale and cost. There is also a paid for residential workshop exploring touring dance to rural locations to prepare artists for the experience.
The RTDI is keen to maintain a diverse programme and welcomes applications from disabled and BAMER artists. And in addition to its usual program for adult audiences is invested in touring work suitable for children and families.
The deadline for applications is midday on Thursday 5 Sep 2019. Artists will be notified that they have been selected for the 2020/21 menu the week commencing 7 Oct 2019, followed by a Practical Introduction to Rural Touring for Contemporary Dance Lab 13 – 15 November 2019 in Dorset.
For the RTDI, Project manager Claire Smith said “The RTDI is going from strength to strength –dance is being repeat programmed by promoters who would not have thought about promoting dance a few years ago and audiences are loving it – so apply and get involved ! “
Dance treats from the Rural Dance Touring Initiative sees returning favourites and new offerings in rural villages
bgroup, Point Of Echoes 9 Feb – 17 Mar Splitmilk, The Little Love Cabaret14 Feb – 10 May Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, May Contain Food – May Contain You 23 Feb – 28 Mar Keira Martin, Here Comes Trouble 2 – 3 Mar Lost Dog, Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) 8 – 17 Mar Just Us Dance Theatre, It’s Between Us 9 – 16 Mar Joan Clevillé Plan B For Utopia 23 – 24 Mar James Wilton, Last Man Standing 13 – 24 Apr Hiccup, May-We-Go-Round 26 Apr Curious Seed Chalk About11 May – 1 Jun
Continuing to bring new and adapted dance work to village halls and other small rural venues across the UK often unreached by touring arts companies, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) is serving up a feast of performances with ten dance companies in Spring 2018. The National Rural Touring Forum’s (NRTF) three-year dance focused scheme – which has now been extended for another three years – served up its first ‘menu’ of work to regional touring schemes in 2016, and their Spring programme is a continuation of their second menu which started last Autumn.
Point of Echoes by bgroup is the first new work commissioned by the RTDI, especially for the rural touring circuit. Set on an unnamed lighthouse, at an unknown time, somewhere on the coast of England, Point of Echoes is created by renowned UK choreographer Ben Wright and musician and writer Stuart Warwick. After performances in RTDI’s second menu in Autumn 2017, it receives a full tour this Spring.
Other shows continuing to tour with RTDI from last Autumn include James Wilton Dance’s Last Man Standing based on Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero, Here Comes Trouble choreographed by Keira Martin and directed by Charlotte Vincent, Just Us Dance Theatre’s It’s Between Us, and The Hiccup Project with May – We – Go – Round.
From the first menu of work presented in Autumn 2016, three favourites will return to RTDI: Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, May Contain Food, May Contain You, a witty dance and music production encouraging audiences to bring their own locally produced food to the theatre and consider the sensory, cultural and social implications of food, Joan Clevillé’s Plan B for Utopia about how creativity and imagination can change the world, and Lost Dog’s Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) which won the Most Innovative/Inspirational Show at the inaugural Ticketsource National Rural Touring Forum Awards in June.
Two brand shows to tour RTDI this spring are The Little Love Cabaret from Spiltmilk is a scrapbook of real-life love stories from contributors aged 2 – 93 from across the country. Somewhere between a sketch show, dance performance, confessional, and a gushing love letter, Spiltmilk Dance rejoice in all things that make life brilliant. Finally, Chalk About from Curious Seed turns the stage into a gigantic chalkboard to explore the nature of identity.
Speaking about the tours, Claire Smith, Project Manager of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative said We have been delighted with the response to our fabulous cohort of companies in this our 2nd RTDI Menu – companies new to Rural Touring and those returning for a second time are very excited by the reaction of audiences. We have seen audiences new to dance returning to see more – they liked it so much first time round!”
The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is an ongoing scheme which has recently been extended until 2021 for making and touring dance performances to and for rural areas. Made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery-funded Strategic Touring Programme, the initiative is led by National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF), which joined with dance institution The Place, arts charity Take Art and independent producing studio China Plate to deliver the scheme.
@rural_dance | #ruraldance | www.ruraltouring.org
Listings information Please note dates may be subject to change, please contact local schemes for confirmed details
bgroup, Points of Echoes
Live and Local Friday 9th Feb – Saturday 10th Feb Night Out Wales Thursday 15th Feb Wiltshire, Rural Arts Friday 16th Feb Carn to Cove, Cornwall Weds 21st Feb – Saturday 24th Feb (no performance Thursday) Highlights, Cumbria Friday 2nd Mar Workshops Fleetwood Thursday 8th Mar Spot On, Lancashire Friday 9th Mar Live Lincs Sunday 11th Mar Night Out Wales Saturday 17th Mar Spiltmilk, The Little Love Cabaret
Black Country Touring – Wolverhampton Wednesday 14th Feb Black Country Touring – Smethwick Thursday 15th Feb Wiltshire Rural Arts Friday 16th Feb Spot On, Lancashire Saturday 3rd Mar Night Out Wales Thursday 10th May Luca Silvestini’s Protein, May Contain Food, May Contain You
Arts Alive, Shropshire/Hereforshire Friday 23rd Feb Spot On, Lancashire Saturday 10th Mar Highlights, Cumbria Friday 16th Mar – Saturday 17th Mar Take Art, Somerset Saturday 24th Mar Night Out, Wales Wednesday 28th Mar
Keira Martin, Here Comes Trouble
Take Art, Somerset FrIday 2nd Mar Air in G, Gloucestershire Saturday 3rd Mar
Lost Dog, Paradise Lost
Carn to Cove, Cornwall Thursday 8th Mar – Saturday 10th Mar Artsreach Dorset Saturday 24th Mar Arts Alive Shropshire Wednesday 21st Mar NEAT Scotland Friday 16th Mar – Saturday 17th Mar
Just Us Dance, Its Between Us
Theatre Artsreach, Dorset Friday 9th Mar Carn to Cove, Cornwall Saturday 10th Mar Arts Alive Mini residency, Thursday 15th Mar & Friday 16th Mar
Joan Clevillé, Plan B for Utopia
Rural Arts On Tour, N. Yorkshire Friday 23rd Mar – Saturday 24th Mar
James Wilton Last Man Standing
Independent -Theatre Orchard Friday 13th Apr
Beaford Arts, Devon Saturday 14th Apr
Carn to Cove ( Leviathan ) Tuesday 24th Apr
The Hiccup Project, May-We-Go-Round
Independent – Strike A Light Thursday 26th Apr
Highlights, Cumbria Friday 11th May Cheshire Rural Touring Arts Sat 12th May 2pm NEAT Scotland Thursday 18th May – Friday 19th May Carn to Cove, Cornwall Saturday 26th May Wiltshire Rural Arts Sunday 27th May Creative Arts East – Youth Residency Tuesday 29th – Thursday 31st May Black Country Touring Friday 1st June
Notes to editors
The NRTF has identified a paucity of dance on the rural touring circuit and the development of a dance project is evident in its business plan. As a result of a fruitful relationship that has developed with The Place and a successful dance showcase at the New Directions Conference 2014, curated in partnership with China Plate, there is momentum to develop dance and rural touring – 89% of conference attenders scored the dance showcase highly or very highly. Through its members the NRTF can access a huge rural touring circuit with over 2,000 promoters. Individual rural touring schemes will play an integral role in the successful roll out of the project.
The Place has been a driving force for contemporary dance in the UK for 45 years. The Place is unique and is comprised of; a training organisation, a producing and receiving theatre, a home for a national touring company and a hub for hundreds of independent artists. Our artist development department provides professional development, training, residencies, commissioning and producing support for dance artists at each stage of their career. Having developed a relationship with the NRTF and after attending the New Directions Conference there is an understanding, excitement and new commitment to supporting dance artists and the dance sector to engage with and take advantage of rural touring opportunities.
China Plate’s portfolio of activity encompasses developing, making and programming new work. They have worked closely with the NRTF for a number of years and curated the New Directions Showcase Festivals in 2012, 2014 & 2016 and programmed the Edinburgh Village Halls Project 2011 – 2013. They are interested in the interrogation of ideas and form and believe that rural communities should have direct access to the highest quality contemporary work. The cross over between dance and theatre is of particular interest and over the last few years China Plate has developed close links with Dance East, programming dance with them into the Pulse theatre festival and worked with Warwick Arts Centre to programme, commission and develop work with a number of choreographers including Charlotte Vincent, Tom Dale and Aakash Odedra.
Over the last decade Take Art has hosted the Somerset county dance agency, supporting the infrastructure for the development and promotion of professional dance in Somerset. It has also run a rural touring scheme since 1987 and the services have worked and gained experience together. Take Art was the lead county dance agency in Up Close, the first south west rural touring dance project in partnership with Dance South West in 2007. The current Dance Director toured rural schemes extensively as a dancer with Pretty Good Girl Dance Theatre in 2009 and 2010. Its hands on experience of and commitment to dance and rural touring at a local level provides the partnership with a grounded perspective.
The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.
Each month we’ll be profiling one of this seasons Rural Touring Dance Intiative companies! First up we have bgroup who won the first ever RTDI comission to make a dance show specifically for rural touring.
What are you most looking forward to?
A warm welcome for the most part 😉 Point of Echoes is an exciting return for us to touring work in the UK. After spending the last three years choreographing more large scale work for Opera and Theatre stages in Sweden, this challenge of developing an intimate work specifically conceived to work in non-theatre spaces has been extremely engaging. We are looking forward to the proximity of performing up close to our audiences whilst retaining certain epic proportions within the production.
What have you packed in readiness for rural locations?
An area Press coffee maker, a full bag of Huel ‘nutritionally complete food’, oh and a van packed dot the hilt with set costume and lights.
How do you think it will be different from touring to towns?
I guess it’s the intimacy of the communities involved. We have already been bumping into individuals here in Langport who came to see one of out dress rehearsals, I like the immediacy of the conversation that can ensue. In many ways it feels like the circus has come to the village and it is exciting to be at the hub of that curiosity.
Can you sum up your show in 3 words ?
Kinetic creepy storytelling.
What would you say to anyone who has never seen dance /theatre?
Don’t come with preconceived ideas. We have developed a show that draws on the full spectrum of my working experience and curiosities. Point of Echoes is blend of genres and disciplines. Although the work is based on a script by Stuart Warwick our storytelling methods drift between movement, song and spoken word. I am interested in working expansively, creating a sense of boundlessness, the categorisation of the show is less interesting to me than getting an engaged and curious audience involved. Think an episode of Tales of the Unexpected or The Twilight Zone performed by dancers.
This short form is designed to help you asses whether or not your show is Rural Touring ready. We take you through the very basic needs of rural touring and give you a list of things to consider. We also point you to other helpful resources and pages along the way. Please note this form is NOT a way of submitting your show to be considered for touring but should be used as a tool to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to approach schemes.