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. The deadline for each round is 5pm on the dates shown below. When you have applied, we will email you the date you should hear the outcome.
|Round 26||13 May 2016||04 July 2016|
|Round 27||08 July 2016||19 September 2016|
|Round 28||23 September 2016||14 November 2016|
|Round 29||18 November 2016||23 January 2017|
|Round 30||24 March 2017||15 May 2017|
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.
We particularly encourage applications for:
- work that reflects the diversity of the local community and/or contemporary England
- international work visiting this country
- mid-scale theatre
How to apply
Step one: Read the guidance
Download the relevant 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.
If you are applying to Round 29 (with a deadline of 18 November 2016), you will use our old application portal.
If you are applying to Round 30, you will use Grantium, our new system, to apply and manage your applications.
Strategic Touring - Guidance for applicants (up to Round 29)
Strategic Touring - Guidance for applicants (Round 30 onwards)
In the latest round of the fund, nine organisations have been awarded £1,543,000.
Royal Court Liverpool Trust
Grant: £42,127 | Artform: Theatre | Area: North
First commissioned by Merseyside Police with support from Liverpool Football Club in 2008, Maurice Bessman’s play Terriers aims to reach disengaged young people in areas of high deprivation and/or low engagement who are exposed to gun and gang crime. The play has been developed over time with the input from young people in such communities and The Royal Court Theatre has been awarded £42,127 to tour it to youth and community venues (including Pupil Referral Units and Young Offender Institutions), libraries and theatres across the North West and the Midlands.
Mind the Gap
Grant: £49,234 | Artform: Theatre | Area: North
Mind the Gap will work with The Lowry, Northern Stage, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Square Chapel Centre for the Arts to deliver Contained, a touring show and programme of audience development. The show incorporates live performance, original music and film and was created with, by and for learning-disabled artists and audiences.
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Grant: £94,540 | Artform: Music | Area: London
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will build upon its 2015 Three Town Tour by touring again to community settings, pubs and concert halls in towns across the country. It will deepen relationships in King’s Lynn and Lowestoft and extend the programme into Mildenhall and County Durham, to inspire, excite and animate thousands of people in exploring their musical landscape.
Applause Rural Touring
Grant: £449,850 | Artform: Literature | Area: South East
With the support of £449,850 from the Arts Council, Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East will develop Inn Crowd. This exciting new partnership will tour live literature to pubs across six counties in the South East and East of England. Pubs are an important part of their communities and the tour will build on that to bring high quality spoken word performances to new audiences. The project will also establish an infrastructure that will support future tours, creating an important legacy for the work.
Upswing Aerial Limited
Grant: £135,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Building Stories, Pushing Boundaries is a two year strategic project to develop diversity in family audiences and emerging artists in some of the least engaged areas of the Midlands, London and the South East. Upswing will lead audience engagement and artist development programmes around the making and touring of multidisciplinary circus.
Rural Arts North Yorkshire
Grant: £104,948 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: North
Rural Arts North Yorkshire will receive £104,948 to increase the diversity of work touring across rural North Yorkshire and to run an education programme giving young people the opportunity to create and tour a performance. This project will increase the capacity and skills of promoters and venues in the region and involves partner such as RJC Dance and Sonia Sabri Dance Company.
Grant: £145,814 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Drawing on its research project, New Theatre in Your Neighbourhood, Fuel will create three new volunteer-led social networks in Wolverhampton, Reading and Newcastle & Gateshead, and strengthen existing networks in Margate and Preston. Fuel will create an online local touring resource for use by audiences, regional partners, artists and touring organisations to share and benefit touring practice.
Red Ladder Theatre Company
Grant: £186,463 | Artform: Theatre | Area: North
Red Ladder Theatre Company has been awarded £186,463 to deliver the Northern Social Circuit programme. It will work with West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Civic Barnsley and Cast Doncaster to tour eight different exciting, challenging and relevant productions to fifteen non-traditional venues such pubs, social clubs, rugby league and sports and social clubs to maintain and develop new audiences across the region.
The New Art Exchange Ltd
Grant: £335,035 | Artform: Visual Arts | Area: Midlands
New Art Exchange are specialists in commissioning and programming culturally diverse visual art. Over the next three years, they will tour three new exhibitions exploring ethnicity, gender, religion and disability to arts centres and galleries across England. Our £335,035 investment will support New Art Exchange to work with the host venues to develop their knowledge and expertise of working with diverse artists and local communities who are less engaged with arts and culture.
Strategic Touring - successful applicants
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 will be easier to navigate, with clearer, simpler questions
- Applicants for under £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. In October, we will publish the new application form and guidance to assist you.
We have postponed 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.
Round 29 closes on 18 November 2016, so if you can’t wait until March please make sure you submit your application by then.
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.