For many people, touring shows and exhibitions are the only means to experience art in their area. Our Strategic Touring fund makes it easier for organisations and artists to bring great art and culture to people across England.
£35 million for 2015–18, including £750,000 a year from the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund to support inbound international touring.
Any individual or organisation can apply, including National Portfolio Organisations, Major Partner Museums, libraries and partnerships, networks or consortia.
There are six application rounds each year – you can submit your application at any time. There are three key dates for each round:
- The deadline to submit your application (each round closes at 5pm on the date specified)
- The decision date - this is when you'll know the outcome of your application
- The project start date - this must be at least 12 weeks after the round deadline
About the fund
We recently announced a number of changes to this fund. See section 6 for details.
Many areas of England offer few opportunities to attend and participate in the arts. They may be geographically isolated or suffer from a lack of local artists and arts organisations. We believe that everyone has the right to experience and be inspired by art, so we want to transform the opportunities open to people in these places.
This programme funds touring work, focusing especially on areas where people have low engagement with the arts and those that rely on touring for much of their arts provision. It also seeks to extend the reach of high-quality work by broadening the range of venues presenting it, as well as forging stronger relationships between audiences, promoters, venues, artists and producers.
The programme supports a wider range of high-quality work, with a focus on work that is toured to people and places with the least engagement and reflects the diversity of local communities and/or contemporary England and increases work that supports the Creative Case for Diversity .
Our current priorities are:
- Incoming international work
- Mid-scale theatre (drama going to venues with 400-800 seats)
How to apply
We’ve now moved the Strategic Touring programme over to our new online system, Grantium. You should use the guidance document ‘Strategic Touring – Guidance for applicants (Round 30 onwards)’.
Step one: Read the guidance
Download the guidance document below and read it carefully. Consider how your application can contribute to the aims of the programme.
Step two: Have your ‘mandatory conversation’ with us
Applicants must have a mandatory conversation with a designated Relationship Manager about their proposal prior to application. Our Customer Services team will refer applicants to an appropriate RM in their area.
Step three: Complete and submit the online application form
Click the 'Apply now' link at the top of this page to go to our online application portal.
From Round 30 you will use Grantium, our new system, to apply and manage your applications.
Strategic Touring - Guidance for applicants (Round 30 onwards)
Strategic touring key dates 17-18
In the latest two rounds of the fund, 14 organisations have been awarded £2,764,051
Grant: £240,000 | Artform: Combined arts | Area: London
Remarkable Productions will receive £240,000 for its project with Mela Arts International: Streets of Mela. A programme of outdoor arts, dance and music led and inspired by South Asian arts and artists will tour communities in Outer London. It will reach some of the largest South Asian population centres in the capital offering arts engagement in meaningful, sustainable and accessible ways.
Poetry Translation Centre
Grant: £32,000 | Artform: Literature | Area: London
The Poetry Translation Centre has been awarded £32,000 for two national tours featuring Turkish, Somali and British poets, reaching community audiences in the North, Midlands, London and South West. It will establish a touring network for the Poetry Translation Centre's works, sharing best practice for producing bilingual poetry events and laying the groundwork for the Centre's 15th anniversary in 2019.
Grant: £17,799 | Artform: Music | Area: London
Xiom Productions has been awarded £17,799 for Testimony Tour: 21 concerts in 21 cities. Audiences across England will be taken on a journey from the heart of Malian griot culture to original contemporary compositions for solo kora and cello performed by the composer and multi-instrumentalist Tunde Jegede with live multi-media visuals by visual artist, Sunara Begum.
Grant: £86,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Frantic Theatre company has been awarded £86,000 to re-tour its acclaimed production Things I Know To Be True. The show will reach audiences in areas of least engagement across the country, from Birmingham to Bristol, accompanied by creative learning workshops.
Grant: £159,680 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Mimbre has been awarded £159,680 for Expanding Circus Audiences: a large-scale 18-month project to build new contemporary circus audiences and increase the touring circuit in the Midlands, North and South East of England. The project will include audience development using Mimbre’s existing show, 'If I could I would', and the creation of a new indoor show, 'The Exploded Circus'.
Forma Arts and Media
Grant: £117,000 | Artform: Visual arts | Area: London
Forma Arts and Media has been awarded £117,000 to deliver ‘From Out A Darker Sea’, a tour of live music and film performance by So Percussion. Touring ten sacred spaces in partnership with ten cultural institutions in the Midlands, North, London and South East, each performance will be accompanied by an educational programme produced with local people.
Grant: £1,166,408 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
The National Theatre has been awarded £1,166,408 to broaden and increase theatre audiences and production in six areas of low engagement, working with local partners across a three-year programme. Activity includes touring large and small works, community participation and an extensive education programme. It will have a lasting impact, laying the ground for more plays to be staged locally, attracting and retaining new audiences, and contributing to the development of the UK theatre sector.
De La Warr Pavilion
Grant: £289,165 | Artform: Music | Area: South East
OUTLANDS is an exciting new project that will see the creation of a new regional touring network for experimental music, providing an important opportunity for more people, in more places across England to access and enjoy non-mainstream music. Ten venues, producers and promoters will work together to commission and tour three new productions each year over two years. Each of the tours will be accompanied by an important learning and participation programme.
Grant: £99,970 | Artform: Theatre | Area: South East
Gecko will tour ‘The Wedding’, which raises issues of social cohesion and isolation, to regional venues across England. The tour will support more regional theatres to programme high-quality and ambitious mid-scale theatre that appeals to new, younger audiences. Each performance will be accompanied by a programme of artist development and audience engagement that will support local skills development and promote social cohesion within local communities.
Forestry Commission England
Grant: £139,985 | Artform: Theatre | Area: South West
Forestry Commission England and Burn the Curtain will use £139,985 to develop Snark Hunter, a project that will combine digital technology with promenade performance and will tour to forests across England.
Grant: £95,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: North
Nina: A Story about Me and Nina Simone is a successful show by leading BAME artist Josette Bushell-Mingo. Unity Theatre and Swedish theatre company Riksteatern will tour a co-production around England, using the show to develop BAME audiences in traditional theatres while challenging existing audiences.
Leeds Art Gallery
Grant: £150,398 | Artform: Visual arts | Area: North
Leeds Art Gallery, with partners Artangel, Towner Art Gallery and Bristol Museums & Art Gallery, will use the award to tour a new work by British artist Andy Holden. They will work with wildlife, environment, farming and non-arts agencies to draw new audiences to the arts and propose an evaluation programme to help foster future community collaborations.
Stockton Arts Centre
Grant: £99,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: North
REACH II is the second phase of a project bringing theatre to areas of the North East where audiences can find it difficult to travel to experience the arts. The project will support six venues in Alnwick, Sunderland, Bishop Auckland, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, and Barnard Castle to continue developing their programming and audience development skills, while also developing a network that will aid their long-term planning.
Grant: £71,646 | Artform: Music | Area: North
Working with promoters and venues such as Culture House and Blue Jam Arts, Jazz North will curate, produce and tour a one day pop-up jazz festival to four communities in the Ribble Valley, Penrith, Middlesbrough and Cleethorpes.
ALT SHIFT J will present new artists and use digital technology to encourage more young people to experience jazz music both as participants and audience members.
Strategic Touring - successful applicants for all rounds
Evaluating the programme
It’s been five years since the launch of our Strategic Touring fund.
We recently commissioned an external evaluation (delivered by Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd) to help us assess the key achievements and challenges of the fund, and work out how we can get even more impact out of future investment.
As well as testing the quality and success of the fund, this report will help us improve the fund and make it even more effective in the future. It will also be a useful resource to organisations considering applying for Strategic Touring funding.
Projects reach new audiences across England
The report shows that projects that received Strategic Touring funding have reached people across all parts of England who don't usually engage with the arts:
- 91 per cent of funding goes to touring outside London
- 60 per cent of projects are targeted at people who haven’t engaged with art and culture before
Find out more
To read the full report and our response, click the links in the Downloads section at the bottom of the page.
Blog: Understanding the report
Our Director of Touring, Michelle Dickson, blogs about the key findings of the Strategic Touring reportFind out more
Strategic Touring - evaluation report
Strategic Touring - evaluation report response
Changes to the fund
We recently commissioned an external evaluation of this fund (see previous section). Given the findings, we’re making a few changes to the fund and the application process to make it more user friendly.
The key changes are:
- The application form is easier to navigate, with clearer, simpler questions
- Those applying for less than £100,000 will not have to submit a full audience development plan unless their application is successful
- Partners will need to be more strongly represented in the application, and commit to best practice around data capture and sharing
- Successful applicants must submit a case study of their project to CultureHive, to help others learn from their experience
- We will increase our support for applicants – there will be mandatory conversations to give potential applicants clear feedback and we will monitor project delivery more closely
Our hope is that these changes will help the funded projects benefit more people, create an increased legacy for partners and audiences, and ensure that learning is shared as widely and effectively as possible.
What this means for applications
All applications from round 30 onwards must be submitted through our new application portal, Grantium. We have postponed the deadline for round 30 – applications will be open until 24 March 2017. If you're applying to be part of the National Portfolio in 2018-22, this will give you time to focus on that application.
Please note: We have supported a number of excellent applications in recent rounds. Unfortunately this means we will face challenges on the Strategic Touring budget until at least 2018.