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Winners of the Rural Touring Awards Announced

Winners of the Rural Touring Awards Announced

The winners of the second annual Rural Touring Awards have been announced at the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) New Directions conference in Worcester. Nominated by over 350 individuals, and with winners selected by an industry panel, the awards recognize the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff (find the full list of winners below).

The independent judging panel comprising Deborah Clarke (Action with Communities in Rural England ACRE), playwright Sayan Kent, Reviews Editor and Joint Chief Critic for The Stage, Natasha Tripney and rural touring promoter Des George, winner of last year’s Best Promoter award selected the winners from a shortlist announced earlier this month.

Music performance of the year was won by Apphia Campbell for her touring show Black is the Colour of my Voice, which in addition to rural touring, was a sell out show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Stage performance of the year was won by theatre company Ragged Edge for their debut production The Chef Show. Written by playwright and broadcaster Nick Ahad, The Chef Show is part comedy play, part cooking demonstration and reflects on the villages and market towns where there are ‘Indian’ restaurants with staff that rarely have any contact with their community apart from serving them food.

The award for Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year was won by Highlights rural touring scheme and November Club for creating Beyond the End of the Road, a new site-specific musical presented at eight Northumberland village halls and at Hexham Cattle Mart.

Voluntary promoter of the year was awarded to Mike Greener from Spittal, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and a Young Person of the Year was won by a group of young people aged 12-18, the Forest Young Promoters who each year programme up to three shows for rural touring in Gloucestershire.

The NRTF Special Award was open to all nominations and seeks to recognise an individual or a group who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of rural touring. This year’s winner was Barbara Slack from Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.

One of her nominees said “It's not so much what Barbara has done in the last 12 months; it's more what she has done in the past 21 years. Barbara was the first director of Highlights when it began in 1997. She has grown the organisation from working with a handful of village venues in four districts of the North Pennines to programming in the region of 160 performances per year in around 65 village and community venues across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland. She has been not only a dedicated and devoted manager and leader for Highlights, but also an advocate for rural touring across the UK.”

National Rural Touring Forum is a member-led organisation that works strategically with partners to develop work and deliver high quality art experiences that strengthen rural and other communities. It provides the rural touring network with training, information and networking services and enable international partnerships and commissions. The organisation aims to promote better understanding of the value of rural and community touring through research and advocacy.

The presentation of awards took place at 9pm on 27th June at Worcester University at the NRTF New Directions conference


Music Performance of the Year
WINNER Apphia Campbell - Black Is The Color of My Voice
Clive Carroll – A Thousand Years of Music
Whalebone – UK Tour

Stage Performance of the Year
Forget Me Not - The Alzheimer's Whodunnit - Rob Gee
WINNER The Chef Show – Ragged Edge
The Deep - 10ft Tall Theatre

Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year
WINNER Beyond the End of the Road – Highlights rural touring scheme (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham) and November Club working together to create and tour a site-specific musical
Common Lore – Solo storytelling show created via a collaboration between Spot On Lancashire, Cheshire Rural Touring, Lancashire Libraries and Sophia Hatfield.
Inn Crowd – An initiative enabling rural pubs to host spoken word-inspired live performance led by touring schemes Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich and Pub Is The Hub.

Voluntary Promoter of the Year
Christine Reilly – Creative Arts East (Norfolk, Suffolk and the East)
Janet Wood – Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)
WINNER Mike Greener - Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)

Young Person of The Year
Crystal Zillwood (Dance Artist - Devon)
WINNER Forest Young Promoters - Arts in Rural Gloucestershire
Hannah Wood (Technical Stage Manager, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire)

Speaking about the awards, NRTF Director Holly Lombardo said “It has been a privilege to be a part of this year’s awards for the first time. Hearing people talk about why they value the productions and people in Rural Touring Network and why they have made a difference to lives and their area has been heartwarming and inspiring.

Ian McMillan said “'I'm proud to be part of these awards that celebrate the makers of the dynamic arts renaissance that's sweeping the country, realigning our idea of what true centres of excellence can be and can become. All hail the village hall! All hail rural touring!'

Rural touring is a growing sector of the UK’s arts industry with NRTF figures indicating that audience numbers attending shows in village halls and at outdoor rural events have increased 26% since 2006/7.

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