Community touring: an international village

To coincide with this week’s performances from two European companies, we’ll be looking at the international elements of our work every day on the blog. Our Marketing Officer, Sarah Benn, gives us an overview…

So you left the house at 7.10pm on Saturday and walked five minutes round the corner to your community venue. There’s was a buzz in the room as you entered and you were immediately met by familiar faces; perhaps your neighbour, the shopkeeper, that lady from the WI that was at the Christmas fete. It’s easy to assume that the evening is a wholly local affair.

Community touring in the UK: 2011-12 survey results from members of the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF)

Community touring in the UK: 2011-12 survey results from members of the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF)

In reality, there is a network of  1,679 promoter groups across the UK through the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) and they’re all bringing their communities together to see professional performances in their local venues. And it’s not just the UK; there are schemes like ours bringing people together across the world in countries like Sweden, Canada and Australia. Later this week we’ll catch up with our colleagues in New Zealand to find out how they’re getting on after the devastating earthquake in Christchurch two years ago.

There are currently around 1,343 professional companies and artists touring the country through schemes such as Shindig. Some of the performers might be relatively local to you but most will have travelled long distances across the country, with some artists flying in from other parts of the world.

Shindig is committed to bringing you professional live arts on your doorstep and a programme of work which includes performances from international artists. We firmly believe that experiencing and sharing arts from other cultures expands our horizons and enriches our lives by offering opportunities for mutual learning and understanding. As well as presenting an insight into other traditions, we sometimes bring artists from abroad because they are offering the chance to see something which is completely innovative and extraordinary that artists from the UK aren’t producing.

Production photograph from Portmanteau by Compagnie Animotion

Production photograph from Portmanteau by Compagnie Animotion

As part of our dedication to bringing international artists to your local venue, the income we receive from the Shindig Friends Scheme is put directly towards supporting our international programme. Each season, there is one show in particular which will have been made possible by Friends’ membership contributions. This season our Friends have supported Portmanteau by the French-based theatre company, Compagnie Animotion, who are performing in Stourport on Severn this week.

Over the next few days we hope to introduce you to international artists, touring schemes and initiatives which you might not already be aware of and we hope you’ll enjoy learning about this exciting aspect to our work.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear about an international performance that you’ve enjoyed here in the UK or abroad. Tell us about it in the comments box below.

About Live & Local

Live & Local is a not-for-profit arts organisation working across Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. We support a network of voluntary organisations that bring communities together to enjoy high quality, affordable and professional live performances and film screenings. Our work is made possible by investment from Arts Council England and local authorities in the areas where we work and it happens because of the dedication of volunteers.
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