The winners of the first-ever Ticketsource Rural Touring Awards, have just been announced at the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF)’s Annual Conference in Nottingham. Nominated by over 700 individuals, and with winners selected by an industry panel, the awards recognise the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff in the rural touring sector.
The independent judging panel comprising Guardian journalist Lyn Gardner, writer and researcher Francois Matarasso, Ed Collier of independent producing studio China Plate and Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of The Woodland Trust, weighed up the best of the brilliant stories and examples of good, enthusiastic and dedicated practice and forward-looking work from across the hundreds of nominations.
The award categories focused on the key areas of rural touring success: welcoming village halls and community venues, enthusiastic promoters (many of whom are volunteers), supportive touring schemes, and innovative and inspirational shows, and so the winners include a range of individuals, companies, schemes and venues. Audience members made around 55% of nominations, alongside touring scheme staff, artists and promoters.
The NRTF Special Award was open to all nominations with the judges looking for an amazing story from the world of rural touring – and the shortlist reflected long term engagement with specific local communities which have been valued over many years. The award was won by Ian Scott, recently retired Director of Artsreach Dorset in recognition of his 25 years of service in the rural touring sector.
The award for most innovative or inspirational show was won by dance company Lost Dog, for Paradise Lost (Lies unopened beside me), with Cornwall’s Carn to Cove recognised as the ‘Most supportive touring scheme’.
The award for Best Promoter went to Des George, of West Wales’ Neuadd Dyfi venue. Shropshire’s Quatt Village Hall was recognised as the UK’s most welcoming village hall, having been nominated by audience members and companies that toured to the venue.
Hannah Prior, Arts Alive board member and co-director of I-gnition, Shropshire won the Rural Touring Newcomer award in recognition of her voluntary work with her local rural touring scheme.
In 2015/16 over 332,000 people attended shows supported by NRTF member schemes and since the first National Rural Touring Forum figures in 2006/07 audience numbers have increased by 26%, reflecting a huge increase in the amount of work that is reaching and being enjoyed by rural audiences.
Speaking about the judging process, Ed Collier said 'Rural touring performance in the UK is absolutely thriving. The shortlist of artists, promoters, venues and schemes revealed some amazing work happening up and down the country. Its was an extremely difficult set of decisions to come to and we hope that the recognition these awards offer to the people who make it all happen will help to continue strengthening the sector.’
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 28th June at Nottingham University at the NRTF annual conference.
Winners and Runner-ups
Rural Touring Newcomer
DES GEORGE - NEUADD DYFI
Sue Cottam - Bradworthy
Rebecca Smith - Cheriton Fitzpaine
Most Innovative and/or Inspirational Show
PARADISE LOST (LIES UNOPENED BESIDE ME)
The Deluge – Lila Dance
Labels – Worklight Theatre
Most Supportive Touring Scheme
CARN TO COVE
Most Welcoming Village Hall
QUATT VILLAGE HALL
Melbourne Assembly Rooms
Felton Village Hall
NRTF Special Award
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Award sponsor TicketSource is a free online ticketing and box office management system. It was launched in February 2004, has been used by over 13,000 event organisers and venues of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK. Ticketsource was the first free ticketing system to offer a choice of general admission tickets or allocated seating via an onscreen seating plan, a choice of e-tickets, mobile tickets and thermal printed tickets, self-managed automated discount options and an integrated barcode scanning app to turn any smartphone into an on-the-door real-time ticket scanner – all features which are fully controllable online by event organisers. In 2014, shortly after celebrating their 10th anniversary, Ticketsource rolled out their service to the USA and the Eurozone.