Report on Pilot Rural Touring Show

Reepham & Cherry Willingham Village Hall, 25th September 2020.

[Live & Local – COVID-Secure Pilot Performance Report © Nov 2020]

Introduction


Live & Local supported a professional rural touring show on Friday 25th September 2020 in
partnership with Townsend Theatre Productions and Reepham & Cherry Willingham Village Hall
Committee, Lincolnshire.
This performance of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ was the first professional performance
in a UK village hall since the beginning of the pandemic and was informed by the then current
guidance and legislation relating to the performing arts, community venues and catering. Socially
distanced seating allowed for 37 audience members at a venue that usually seats 90.
Aims & Objectives
The aim was to inform Live & Local in order to help us advise, provide assurance, and instil
confidence for promoters and their volunteers, audiences, companies. The objectives were to:

  1. Test the viability that under the then COVID-Secure measures that rural touring can safely
    recommence while adhering to relevant legislation and guidance.
  2. Test conclusions from our audience restART survey carried out in May.
  3. Observe and learn from the experience of the audience, promoter and company at the
    event and pre- and post- event.
  4. Use the results of these measures to inform the arts sector, rural touring organisations
    and local authority funders.

Context
This performance was carried out on September 25th, 2020 in Lincolnshire.
The regulations were changing regularly in the four-week run into this event and regulations may
well be different at the time of reading this report and/or due to geographical location. At the
outset and throughout we reminded all partners that whilst this was called a ‘pilot’ the risks were
very real.
The local voluntary promoter group were an experienced group having had five Live & Local events
in the past two years. Their previous events were music, so this theatre show was a change for their
audience.
The event was informed by Live & Local’s audience and promoter restART surveys carried out
during the preceding summer lockdown.


The pilot was supported by funds from Arts Council England, Lincolnshire County Council, West
Lindsey District Council, and the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF).


Approach


Risk Mitigations
Planning for the event considered relevant guidance and legislation which changed multiple times
during the planning process. The following measures were used:
• Comprehensive risk assessments by Company and promoter/Venue
• Advance customer communications
• Digital marketing
• Advance sales only online ticketing
• Advance sales only online drinks pre-ordering
• Enhanced cleaning
• Entrance and wall signage
• Additional staffing
• Test and Trace
• Socially distanced queuing
• Socially distant seating
• Seat labelling
• Hand sanitiser
• One-way system
• Face coverings
• Increased ventilation
• Table service

Risk Assessments
A risk assessment for their show was required from the company by Live & Local in advance of
even being booked for this event. The venue was required by regulation to have completed a risk
assessment to be able to open the venue for any event.
An additional risk assessment was produced in cooperation with Live & Local, the company and
promoter for this specific event incorporating the show and venue assessments and enhanced in
line with the needs of a professional ticketed performance.

Seating Format
The venue, being a village hall with no fixed seating, benefited from flexible seating opportunities.
However, managing the seating plan in line with socially distanced seating was time-consuming.
Capacity depended on the size of groups booking which could not be easily predicted and had to
be managed in an ongoing way by adapting the initial seating plan. This stood out in contrast to
the usually informal unreserved seating arrangements at Live & Local rural touring events.

Audience Communication – before and during pilot
COVID-Secure information was kept concise in the marketing to reassure but not overwhelm,
focussing on areas highlighted by our previous audience research. At the point of booking and in a
reminder email the day before the show, the audience were informed of a range of measures in
place and what was needed from them in order to deliver a safe event.
Staff and volunteers verbally repeated key messages around social distancing, the one-way
systems, face coverings and timings at the entrance. This clear ‘one to one’ guidance was
welcomed by the audience.
Due to the relatively small number involved, this was manageable and worked well. Staggered
entry times were not required due to the audience size and that it was only advance sales.


Cleaning
Enhanced cleaning procedures were introduced at the venue, with staff/volunteers provided
additional equipment and materials before and after the event.
Enhanced Staffing and Support
As this was a pilot event, two staff, from Live & local were involved on the day in addition to the
usual three volunteers who run events at this venue. A significant amount of extra time was
committed in advance and on the day by the promoter, company, and Live & Local staff.
It was possible for this promoter to engage enough volunteer support to safely deliver a show,
however, duties needed to be very clearly assigned along with appropriate instruction.
For this pilot, there was a substantial additional time investment from the Live & Local professional
team and from the promoter. Although this was a pilot event run by Live & Local in conjunction
with an experienced local promoter and company at a time when the regulations were still new
and changing, this still indicated to us that we would have to augment our support for all other
promoters who elect to take shows in the foreseeable future.


Ventilation
Ventilation was increased by opening internal and some external doors, however in late
September this proved inhospitable. We could not have as much additional ventilation as planned
due to very high winds on the day. We had considered using an outdoor space covered by brought
in gazebos for the audience pre-show and interval, but this was not possible due to the weather.
Increasing ventilation in this manner has to be balanced by the comfort of the audience as well as
creating additional risks.


Face Coverings
The regulations at the time required everyone in the venue to wear face coverings
unless eating
or drinks (or exempt). The audience wore face coverings throughout the performance and when
moving around the building, only taking them off to eat or drink. These regulations had changed
from being only guidelines very recently before the pilot date. As a result, this was not the norm
and had to be regularly emphasised to most of the participants in the pilot, both audience and
volunteers.

Artist/Company Mitigations
The company were a professional organisation with experience of touring to non-theatre spaces
and had also been required to provide a show specific COVID-Secure risk assessment prior to being
booked.
Extra performance space was required to distance the performer from the audience. Artists wore
face coverings while in the hall except for during the performance. The get-in time was increased,
and the artists were allowed sole access to the main hall in advance of the show. No practical
support (carrying gear) was given to the artists for the get in or get out. However, this was difficult
to manage on the day with other practical matters needing to be mutually agreed.
Promoters will need to allow extra time to ensure the setting up of the front of house and bar to
allow artists sole access to the space. All participants on the day found it a substantial change to
maintain social distancing given the usually highly mutually supportive interactions between
artists and local volunteers. The experience indicated to us that we would have to add to our
assurances to artists that all the local volunteers were fully appraised of the relevant risks and
mitigations, not just the main contacts with whom they may have had frequent contact in the run
up to the day.


Catering
The audience pre-ordered and pre-paid for drinks online. These were priced separately to tickets
and then prepared in advance and delivered by table service. There was no opportunity to buy any
further drinks during the evening, resolving issues around people queueing at the bar or needing
to pay in cash (as many community venues cannot currently facilitate contactless payment). This
event used online ticketing to facilitate this process (Ticket Source) and there was no cost to the
promoter.
To test the viability of a catering offer as this is so much part of many rural touring events,
complimentary food was provided by local professional catering company, Salted Orange. This was
prepared nearby in a van and delivered to the audience by table service. They were the regular
professional suppliers for the hall, so it made sense to continue the relationship. Catering can be
safely provided by experienced volunteers in a village hall should they chose to do so themselves,
if have brought themselves thoroughly up to speed with COVID-Secure catering regulations.


Seating and Ticketing
Seating was planned using Ticket Source and people were seated theatre-style in-household
groups/support bubbles only. Establishing the amount of usable space in a community venue is
not as straightforward as in a professional venue. Community venues usually benefit from flexible
seating and offer a good solution for socially distanced seating. However, seating arrangements in
these venues have often been relatively informal in the past and the required higher level of
attention to detail needed to seating for everyone involved (audience, staff, volunteers, company)
is a significant change to what many involved in rural touring are used to.
They will often need enhanced support from Live & Local to maximise seating whilst retaining a
COVID-Secure event. This will be variously challenging in the future dependent on whether the
promoter is IT resistant or not (to using online ticketing) and or whether they can create and
manage a more manual seating planning system. Managing a seating plan dependent on the sizes
of household groups and the order they book in, while trying to maximise the space available, is
time-intensive. This pilot used Ticket Source, however their socially distanced seating planning
function did not at that time avoid orphan seats however manged the situation well in all other
respects.

Marketing and Communications
Marketing was carried out digitally and by word of mouth. The show was advertised on social
media, circulated via mailing list and by invitations from the promoter and committee to contacts
in the community. Print is usually an important part of marketing a Live & Local rural touring show,
however none was used for the pilot in order to mitigate risks to promoters and volunteers
distributing leaflets and posters in the community. Given the smaller number of tickets available, it
seems quite possible that print is either unnecessary or only needed in small quantities.


Financial
Tickets were sold rather than complimentary so as to test the sales and box office processes. They
were set at a reduced price of £5 to reflect the one-off nature of this pilot event. Audience
comments suggest that there is no reason to reduce tickets for future standard events.
Socially distanced seating and increased performance space meant the capacity of the hall was
reduced from 90 to 37. Even if tickets had been priced at our usual £10-£12, this would mean a
38% decrease in our average total ticket yield. Capacity and therefore total ticket yield is strongly
influenced by the size of household groups booking, so shows attracting several larger groups
would fare better financially, however based on our previous booking data we can surmise that
the balance of group sizes at this pilot is very much within the normal pattern.
Rural touring events are usually subsidised to some extent. Assuming Live & Local’s usual financial
model, reducing the total ticket yield by 38% would require a 31% increase in the subsidy to cover
just the direct costs (i.e. this does not include additional staff time) Furthermore any income
retained by the local promoter would be substantially reduced, potentially putting another barrier
in place for some (but not all) promoters to book shows.


Audience Analysis
Live & Local used a bespoke survey for feedback sent the day after the show. We received
completed survey forms from 10 of 13 bookers. All responders reported feeling safe and
comfortable throughout the show. The vast majority of responders were aware of safety measures
before attending the show and found the online pre-ordering systems for tickets and drinks easy
to use. The results reflect an overwhelmingly positive experience and audience buy-in to COVID Secure measures in order to make it possible for shows to recommence.

Conclusions
The pilot demonstrated that rural touring performances can safely resume with increased advance
guidance given to promoters and companies by Live & Local along with additional resources at the
event, in terms of time, people and skills. The measures used were effective and the benefits to
the audience far outweighed the inconvenience of socially distanced seating, wearing face
coverings and the other COVID-Secure mitigations.
Live & Local has a responsibility to all participants in its rural touring events; artists, attenders, and
volunteers, and to its own reputation to ensure COVID-Secure events. As there may be a natural
inclination from local Promoters to interpret regulations in a way so as to minimise change for
their regular attenders, Live & Local and the company’s professional role must be to encourage
and support the delivery of legal and COVID-Secure events.
The pilot has shown that with this higher level of professional support, rural touring shows
incorporating socially distanced seating and other COVID-Secure mitigations can be safely
delivered and be very well-received by the audience. However, many promoters are likely to need
additional support in order to maximise their seating capacity and provide catering and other safe
event management protocols.


To ensure a safe event, promoters will also need more volunteer support than usual who are well
briefed and there will need to be an increased level of advanced communication and collaboration
with regards to risk assessments and discussion about Health & Safety Practices.
The partnership between professional and voluntary organisations and the combination of earned
and public funds, is a highly cost-effective market intervention that ensures a high-quality cultural
offer in rural communities and one that delivers more community benefits than only audiences.
These additional benefits are clearly even more vital now in order to support the recovery from
COVID in these rural communities. Whilst in the longer-term the financial model imposed by
socially distanced seating is unsustainable, in the meantime additional funds within the model or
agreed reduced outputs in terms or numbers of events will be necessary.
For all the participants it was more complex and time-consuming than our ‘standard’ rural touring
events and had a substantial learning curve within a constantly shifting set of regulations. This will be
the case going forward, albeit with a diminishing burden.
However, it was also a hugely encouraging and inspiring experience to see that live performance can
happen and there is a demand for it during the crisis and also for it to help the recovery.

Arts Council England Launch Digital Culture Network

About the Digital Culture Network

We offer direct 1-2-1 support for organisations in receipt of – or eligible for – Arts Council England funding, as well as a series of training sessions, events and webinars. We’re also building a resource bank which will be available online soon (and have produced a range of resources in response to the current Covid-19 crisis on topics such as Remote Working, Livestreaming and Income Generation).

Support usually consists of an initial diagnostic meeting (30-60mins) with a discussion around your current activity, what you are hoping to achieve, strategy development, prioritisation of areas of work and potential next steps or solutions. Following this the Tech Champion might email you support material, signpost you to relevant resources and/or arrange a follow-up call or support from another Tech Champion. Once the support has been completed, we ask you to fill in a satisfaction survey to help us improve our offer. The support is bespoke to your organisation’s needs, meaning we tailor solutions and advice to be in line with your capacity and resources.

Our nine Tech Champions have specialist backgrounds in:

· Box office, ticketing and CRM

· Data analytics

· Digital content and streaming

· Digital strategy and marketing

· eCommerce and merchandising

· Email marketing

· Search engine optimisation and marketing

· Social media

· Websites

Need more convincing? Read some testimonials we’ve received over the past 12 months:

The [Tech] Champs have come into our meetings to share their advice, delivered webinars and audits for us, sent over reams of helpful information, and sensitively provided expert feedback on our digital profile. They are busy, and so are we – now more than ever – but even occasionally extending our team in this way has been invaluable, and we often refer back to their advice. This service is a great asset to small companies like ours: not only are the Tech Champions very knowledgeable, we know for sure that they’re batting for us.

We really didn’t know where to turn for advice and felt completely isolated and being dictated to by an agency who were ‘blinding us with science’ and not taking the time to explain technical issues to us for a project that was costing us a considerable amount of money.  Our gut feeling was that there was another way and we too were confused by the seeming contradiction re the video/YouTube issue. We now feel we have a better understanding and can challenge with facts and information that we trust.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming events and sector support offers!

Marc Burns

Tech Champion, Digital Culture Network

Arts Council England

Tel 0191 2558517

Mobile 07919367867

E-mail marc.burns@artscouncil.org.uk

Digital skills for the arts and cultural sector

Sign up on the website:Digital Culture Network

NRTF Launches Free Membership

National Rural Touring Forum recognises that this is a difficult time for artists, arts organisations and everyone in the cultural sector. As a gesture of solidarity, we have made our Associate membership FREE for 1 year!

This will enable Artists, Festivals, venues, promoters, producers and arts organisations to not only have a profile on our website but access all our resources including using the member discussion board and information in our weekly e-bulletin.

You don’t have to have done Rural Touring to be a member, anyone can join if they are interested in being a part of, or hearing more about, our wonderful sector.

How to Join –

New members

  • Go to our website https://www.ruraltouring.org/buy-membership/
  • Choose the type of member you are from the list
  • Fill in all the information you are asked for in the sign-up form
  • When you get to the check out area apply the discount code – NRTF Free. This will take the cost to £0

Existing members

If you joined since 1 April 2020 you will be issued a refund automatically sometime next week.

If you joined between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 you will get a renewal letter a year after the date you joined. You will be asked to renew your membership and given a code to get a free year from that date.

Use discount code – NRTF Free – at the checkout!

NB new free membership offers close from 1 April 2021

Flicks in the Sticks employ five young people to engage new audiences

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thanks to funding from the BFI (British Film Institute), rural cinema Flicks in the Sticks has been able to employ five young people as Cultural Coordinators in a bid to reach and engage new audiences through film events specifically for young adults.

Based in and around market towns in Shropshire and Herefordshire; Whitchurch, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Leominster and also Welshpool, the Coordinators aim to work closely with groups of local young people to organise film screenings for those aged 16-30.

The funding has given jobs to young people who are passionate about film and are keen to organise events with, and support attendance by, other young people with similar interests. It is important to Flicks in the Sticks that we expand our audiences to include more people under 35.

We hope to learn from the new audiences how we can make Flicks more accessible to under-represented groups and offer a much more social event, moving away from the trend of watching films on a phone or tablet. With the introduction of streaming sites like Netflix, iPlayer and YouTube and the costs of travelling and going to mainstream cinema, rural young adults are increasingly engaging with film at home.

Director of Arts Alive, Ian Kerry says;

“We are really excited to have received this support from the BFI, and we are now in a position to employ some young people to deliver this great project. If you are between 16 and 30 and want to screen films in a venue of your choice now is your chance to get in touch!”

Tune in to BBC Radio Shropshire to hear Cultural Coordinators Polly and Jo on The Seven O’Clock Show: Thursday 14th November, 7pm

Flicks in the Sticks, the flagship project of rural touring scheme Arts Alive, delivers over 1000 high quality film events to village hall and community venues across Shropshire, Herefordshire and beyond. In 2018 alone, 48,000 people attended a Flicks screening. This year Flicks in the Sticks celebrates 20 years of bringing a wide range of cultural film to local audiences.

If you are interested in putting on a film screening for people between the ages of 18-30, please contact info@artsalive.co.uk

MBE Recognition For Rural Touring Sector

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.

Supporting quotes:

‘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)

ENDS

For interviews or more information please contact:
Johanna Dorey or Mollie Davidson at Live & Local on 01926 402 173
or email johanna@liveandlocal.org.uk / mollie@liveandlocal.org.uk
or Holly Lombardo, Director, National Rural Touring Forum. For more information contact holly@nrtf.org.uk 07905896303 (private number for Journalists only)

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Live & Local should always be presented with an ampersand. The company is not known by any other variation of this spelling.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Live & Local shows are supported by County, District and Borough Councils, Arts Council England and local volunteer promoters.
  5. 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
  6. 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.

Twitter: @live_local @ruraltouring
Facebook: @live.local @ruraltouring

Spot On Lancashire: Digital Commission Call Out

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 awarded Young Start Community Fund grant

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

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

Rural Touring Dance Initiative announces call out for artists

  • 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 ! “  

Find out how to apply here: https://www.theplace.org.uk/rural-dance-touring-initiative-call-out-artists

@Ruraltouring | #ruraldance | https://www.ruraltouring.org/

2018 Applause Outdoors – Commission Opportunities

New commission opportunities for Outdoors work

In summer 2018, Applause Rural Touring will be programming outdoor performances into existing, locally organised village fetes, community events and Festivals in Kent and Sussex. These events take place almost exclusively at weekends from May to September.

They are looking to commission companies/artists with an established interest and track record of working outdoors and interactively who would like to be part of this programme.

All work should entertain and engage audiences, be self-sufficient (i.e. not require technical or other support/involvement by the host organisation) and be able to be accessed by diverse, non-age specific audiences. They can be walk about or static productions but they are intended to suit a range of time frames(i.e. does not require the audience to arrive at a certain time and remain for a set amount of time).

For 2018 we are also looking to commission one new outdoor work inspired by spoken word that we can tour as part of our Inn Crowd project that brings exceptional live events to rural/community pubs – http://inncrowd.org.uk

We are offering the following opportunities and expect to take out between 6-8 shows this season:

1 x Inn Crowd (spoken word inspired outdoor work) – commission fee between £3000 – £6000
AO new commissions for outdoor works – commission fees between £3000 – £8000
AO reshaping/development awards for existing works that requires some reshaping to tour rurally – development fees between £500 – £2500
For full details on the application process, including information for companies, and application forms visit http://www.applause.org.uk/outdoors/

Deadline 5pm Sunday 1st October