ON Tour works with emerging performers as well as established national and international companies to bring live performance of all kinds to communities across North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley.
Whether you create theatre, dance, music, comedy, children’s shows, something different or something in between, our volunteer promoters are always interested to learn more about exciting work that would suit their village venue. Read on to find out how more and how you can get involved.
Before you get in touch
If you’ve not been involved in rural touring before, we recommend that you read the National Rural Touring Forum’s publication Eyes Wide Open. The NRTF website also has a sustainability form for you to work out whether your show is ready for rural touring, although this is only available to members.
Please note that we receive lots of submissions from performers and cannot promise to acknowledge receipt of each application. Generally, we receive about 500 artist enquiries a year, and programme about 25 companies.
We have two seasons each year (September-December and January-June) and programme these at the same time. We’re happy to share our cycle with you below so you can work out when is best to get in touch in relation to your production.
We’re actively reviewing work to be programmed.
We’ve decided what artists we’d like to work with for our two upcoming seasons (Sep-Dec, Jan-Jun).
Our volunteer promoters consider and apply to book performances. We piece together an overall suggested season of work.
We confirm bookings with promoters and artists. Not all artists receive all of the dates they want. Some dates are released back to the company.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Performing with ON Tour: Frequently Asked Questions
We collate all of the information received from artists/companies and approach those we wish to move forwards with to confirm available dates.
We then create a selection brochure – also known as a ‘menu’ – that will go out to our volunteer promoters for the upcoming seasons (September – December, January – June).
Due to the volume of submissions we receive, it’s not always possible to contact every unsuccessful company/artist.
If you have not heard from us by April, it is most likely your performance has not been selected for inclusion in the brochure for the following season (September – December, January – June).
This is not a reflection on the quality of your work, nor necessarily our interest in it. We can only programme a very small minority of the brilliant artists that approach us, and also have to balance multiple priorities while doing so.
Volunteer promoters are given a set period of time to consider the ‘menu’. They then submit requests to us, detailing the show(s) they would like to programme.
We then undertake a jigsaw puzzle process to create a viable tour schedule for the whole period, balancing different promoter requests, geographic regions, artforms, financial commitments and other priorities.
Performances tend to receive between 2 and 4 single date bookings from promoters. Some performances do not receive any bookings. We will let you know as soon as possible after the closing date if this is the case in order that you can offer the dates to other touring schemes, theatres etc.
We undertake contracting. You will be contracted by Rural Arts, who in turns contracts the promoter/their community venue.
Depending on your original submission, you may be asked for further information to market your performance, to clarify technical equipment etc.
We design a brochure that includes all upcoming performances and distribute this across the county in August/September.
We encourage you to engage actively in promoting your performances to ensure strong audience numbers.
After your performance, you will invoice Rural Arts directly. There are cancellation policies to protect artists should a performance be cancelled by a promoter.
We programme all forms of performing arts for audiences of all ages. Whilst many venues have specific logistical restrictions (e.g. ceiling height, no stage etc.) we are always excited to learn about performances of all shapes and sizes that will tour well rurally.
As a company/artist, you should have the capacity to engage positively with our volunteer promoters and their target audiences, and be able to resolve the technical, marketing and administrative challenges that occur in rural community venues.
Our venues are almost exclusively volunteer-run, non-theatre venues with less than 100 seats and limited (if any) technical abilities. Venues generally serve small local catchment areas and promoters tend to organise between 1 and 3 ON Tour events per year. Very few have resources apart from time and enthusiasm to programme and promote your performance.
As well as our submissions process, we use recommendation and research to select performances. This includes information from other rural touring schemes, promoters themselves, performing arts venues, showcases and other artists/companies.
Wherever possible, we or our promoters try to see shows we are considering programming. If you are touring in or near North Yorkshire, please let us know.
Being new to rural touring doesn’t exclude you from being programmed. We’re always happy to hear from companies and artists new to rural touring who are willing to embrace the challenges and rewards it offers. To ensure viability for touring rurally, we encourage you to engage with the NRTF’s resources or speak to us or another scheme early in your creative process if you haven’t toured rurally before.
It’s important that we achieve a balance of work across our offer and programme varying disciplines from a range of artists from diverse backgrounds.
Fundamentally, work is chosen on its artistic merit, and must have high production values that are not compromised by performing in rural community venues.
Terms like artistic merit and quality are incredibly difficult to define as they are subjective.
We use a number of tools, guides and principles, however, to try to ensure that our programming approach is:
- Consistent and fair
- Recognised as valuable, distinct and relatable by promoters and audiences
- Reflects the diversity of experience that exists within local, national and international contexts
Some of these elements include:
- Arts Council England’s ‘Impact and Insight’ metrics, designed and developed in collaboration with artists, programmers and participatory arts professionals
These include measures such as:
- Concept: it was an interesting idea
- Presentation: it was well produced and presented
- Distinctiveness: it was different from things I’ve experienced before
- Challenge: it was thought-provoking
- Captivation: it was absorbing and held my attention
- Enthusiasm: I would come to something like this again
- Local impact: it is important that it’s happening here
- Relevance: it has something to say about the world in which we live
- Rigour: it was well thought through and put together
The Creative Case for Diversity
We programme work that reflects the different experiences of people in the UK and beyond. Recent diverse programming includes LGBT-, disabled- and BAME-led productions.
- All artists/companies must comply with our Equality and Diversity policy, which will be provided to programmed companies/artists.
- Any work or behaviours that are deemed by Rural Arts to be contrary to this policy may result in the cancellation of bookings or be sufficient reason for not selecting a company/artist.
We aim to programme some companies/artists from our region per season to support the development of local artists and cultural life
Working with other rural touring schemes allows joined-up programming that levers high-quality work that might not be otherwise accessible to an individual scheme.
We are always looking for opportunities to reach internationally with our programming, with strong links currently in Canada.
We are a Dance Ambassador scheme for the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, which means we are committed to programming dance from their menu across our seasons.
Work for Children and Young People
We’re committed to programming performances for children and young people. We tend to offer these to promoters during the school holiday periods.
Will the piece tour to a high quality in small, largely low-tech rural community venues?
Getting in touch with us
If you are looking to perform with ON Tour, get in touch with Jo Gatenby, ON Tour Manager by email (email@example.com) to provide the following:
- A blurb about your show and company
- Technical details of your show, including whether you tour with all your own equipment
- Available dates during our upcoming seasons (September-December, January-June)
- Any video footage of your show (full length or trailer)
- Fee per performance, including any discounts for multiple performances
- Marketing materials, including a high-res image and feedback from the press, audiences, etc.
- Any feedback from other rural touring schemes
- Whether there are opportunities for us to come and watch the show in our region over the coming period
We’re approached by hundreds of companies each year and, as a small part-time team, unfortunately cannot guarantee a response to every approach.