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Our Highlights of 2013

2013’s been another great year for the NRTF, with some of our highlights listed below.

We’ve seen an increase in membership, with three new Touring Schemes joining the network – The Touring Network in the Highlands and Islands, The Theatre Orchard in Somerset and Performance Republic in South Yorkshire – and more companies and artists becoming members. We’ve also opened up membership to small venues and voluntary promoters this year, inviting more people to join the conversation on the development of rural and small scale touring.

Our conference and showcase in July saw us take over the Macrobert Centre in Stirling for three days of networking, workshops, lively discussions and fantastic showcase performances. With support from Creative Scotland, North East Arts Touring, Federation of Scottish Theatres and the Touring Network (previously Promoters Arts Network) the event attracted over 120 delegates from across the UK and further afield.

Our partnership working this year has seen us work with an exciting range of partners:

Following on from the successful Countryboy’s Struggle tour, our partnership with Contact Theatre continues with a tour of The Novice Detective by Sophie Willan, winner of the 2012 Flying Solo commission. Supported by a grant from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, the 50-date tour kicked off this Autumn, working with rural touring schemes and local voluntary promoters to further develop the young promoters network established in 2012 as part of the Countryboy’s Struggle tour. See our latest news for an update from producer Oliver Sykes.

Our successful partnership with Jazz Services continued, with the Jazz Services Rural Touring Support Scheme supporting high quality jazz artists to tour rural venues across the UK. Christine Tobin and Michael Janisch have both toured throughout 2013 and the winners of the awards for 2013/14 – Fumi Okiji’s Old Time Jazz Band, Sue Richardson and Heads South – will hit the road in 2014. Feedback from artists, promoters and audiences has been universally positive.

We were delighted to join forces with PANDA (Performing Arts Network and Development Agency) this year on the further development of their pitching and mentoring scheme. The scheme offers companies and artists the chance to pitch ideas for rural touring to touring scheme representatives from across the North of England. All participating artists receive detailed feedback on their pitches and shows along with contacts in touring schemes to aid with the development of the work for rural touring.

We are also delighted to be working with Rasa theatre company to bring a tour of States of Verbal Undress to 15 rural and small-scale venues in Spring 2014. The tour will be supported by workshops exploring personal histories and themes of migration with different groups within villages (WI, young farmers, local history groups etc).

Our partnership with independent producers China Plate this year saw Paul Warwick and Ed Collier compile a list of recommended shows for our Edinburgh Village Hall project in August (see below). China Plate are also working with Alex Wright of York Theatre Royal on the curation of our New Directions showcase event, to be held at York Theatre Royal 15th-17th July next year. See our latest news for information on the showcase application process.

Our Edinburgh Village Hall project expanded this year with representatives from touring schemes across the UK receiving bursaries to attend the Edinburgh Fringe with one of their voluntary promoters. China Plate curated a list of recommended shows and an incredible 160 different shows were reviewed by the NRTF members who took part. 2013 also saw the further development of our Introduction to Rural Touring event, where around 100 companies and artists were given the opportunity to find out more about rural touring and meet representatives from touring schemes and voluntary promoters.

Finally, we’ve been continuing with the development of our website as a tool to support our members in networking; sharing news, information and resources; and collaborating on booking tours. Our discussion boards have proved a lively forum for sharing information and discussing all things rural touring, with weekly discussion updates going out to all NRTF members, and they’ve become another useful shop window for companies and artists creating work for rural and small venues.

With exciting plans in the pipeline for 2014 we’re looking forward to another fantastic year for rural touring!