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Arts Council England chairman visits arts forum's Stanford Dingley HQ

Sir Nick Serota supports vision for sustainability of rural arts

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

Arts Council England chairman visits arts forum's Stanford Dingley HQ

Nick Serota, director touring and Cambridge ACE Amy Vaughn and Holly Lombardo

ARTS Council England chairman Sir Nicholas Serota met with rural arts organisations at the headquarters of National Rural Touring Forum in Stanford Dingley, recently. Sir Nick was joined by local ACE National Portfolio Organisations The Watermill and Corn Exchange and personnel from cultural organisations such as LIVR, Metis Theatre, New Adventures, McCurdy & Co, Farnham Maltings and Julie’s Bicycle, to discuss the sustainability of rural touring. The group spent time discussing green touring initiatives, the sustainability of rural arts, the relevance of professional rural touring and what it might look like in 10 years time. The outcome was an aim for a greater understanding of the potential for rural and green touring in England.

The visit was inspired by the appointment of NRTF director Holly Lombardo, the migration of its
headquarters to the South East and the alignment of the sector’s ambitions with Arts Council England’s 10 Year Strategy consultation.

“Rural communities make up nearly 20 per cent of the UK population,” said Holly. “Rural touring not only contributes to local economic growth, it increases wellbeing, confidence anda sense of belonging in communities. Nick Serota’s visit marks an important shift in the value being given to rural arts and we are delighted to be leading the discussion.”

During the meeting, Sir Nick stated how important networks like the NRTF were for supporting the sector, sharing resources and the distribution of data. He said: “Touring is an essential means for many people across the country to experience great arts and culture, particularly those who live in rural areas. But at the same time, we must take into consideration the environmental impact of touring. These calculations are complex, but it was incredibly positive to hear that these questions are front-of-mind for organisations like the National Rural Touring Forum and its stakeholders.

“I hope that we will continue to raise the profile and importance of touring, balancing any environmental impact against the need for people who live in rural areas to have the opportunity to experience art and culture.”NRTF is an ACE National Portfolio Organisation supporting and promoting the importance of the rural arts and touring sector. With 30 member schemes, 1,650 promoting groups, 110,000 voluntary hours, 332,000 audience, in excess of £1m box office sales, this is a thriving sector, that via high-quality programming and commissioning, delivers community cohesion in rural settings and touring opportunities forperforming companies.

For more information on rural touring, visit and watch the film work/rural-touring-advocacy-film

NRTF is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation that networks, supports and advocates for the rural touring sector and as an organisation this enables them to operate in a lean and environmentally sustainable way. Its HQ in Stanford Dingley is just a walk commute for the director, who works in a small but perfectly-formed recycled summer house, with no carbon footprint and shows smart use of limited public funds and resource. This has inspired the provocation. “Green and sustainable touring is what we are all striving for, it helps us work smartly, helps the planet and reduces our environmental impact.The group spent time discussing the sustainability of rural arts, green touring and environmental impact which will contribute to our broader conversations with the touring sector and to help inform ACE national plans for touring.”

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