Shortlist Announced for second annual Rural Touring Awards

The National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF_ has announced the shortlist for Rural Touring Awards to celebrate rural touring in the UK.

Rural Touring Awards 2018
Sheepscombe Village Hall – a typical rural touring venue.

The Rural Touring Awards will be presented during a ceremony at Worcester University on 27 June 2018 during the NRTF’s New Directions showcase. The presentation will be made by poet and bropadcaster Ian McMillan (BBC Radio 3’s The Verb).

Following the success of the inaugural awards in 2017 which were given at the NRTF conference and saw dance company Lost Dog and rural touring scheme staff and volunteers around the UK win for outstanding practice, the NRTF has decided the awards will be held annually in a ceremony celebrating rural touring and those who make it happen.

Nominations across five categories were made by audiences, touring scheme staff, artists and promoters. The introduction of a new Music Performance category for the first time this year recognises the quantity and quality of live music on the rural touring circuit and is distinct from the Stage Performance of the Year Award, which covers achievement in theatre, dance, spoken word or comedy. Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year will reward outstanding examples of partnership working, whether in commissioning artists, seeking sponsors or audience development.

In making the awards, judges will be looking for examples of excellent and dedicated practice and innovative and forward-looking work. The NRTF special award is open to all – from touring schemes and volunteers to artists or touring companies – and seeks to recognise an individual or a group who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of rural touring.

Music Performance of the Year

  • 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
  • The Chef Show – Ragged Edge
  • The Deep – 10ft Tall Theatre

Touring Scheme Collaboration of the Year

  • 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)
  • Mike Greener – Highlights (Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham)

Young Person of The Year

  • Crystal Zillwood (Dance Artist – Devon)
  • Forest Young Promoters – Arts in Rural Gloucestershire
  • Hannah Wood (Technical Stage Manager, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire)


The shortlist will now go before an 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.

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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