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 round of the fund, 15 organisations have been awarded £2,378,002.
Grant: £95,000 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: London
Nutkhut will faciliate Made in Mela: a national partnership to integrate Mela into the wider outdoor arts sector. With £95,000, a programme of high quality work will reach family audiences through Melas in Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, London, Tunbridge Wells and Sandwell & Birmingham.
Fleetwood Festival of Transport
Grant: £97,972 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: North
This investment will support SpareParts: On the Move – a pilot programme which will connect three ambitious transport festivals in Fleetwood, Crewe and Sandbach. Led by Fleetwood Festival of Transport, the organisations will work together to produce and deliver an exciting programme of outdoor arts which local audiences can enjoy and take part in. The project aims to continue this partnership approach and develop a touring network of transport festivals.
Abandon Normal Devices
Grant: £280,000 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: North
AND Festival on Tour 17 will help organisations in rural and heritage sites across the North to improve their digital capacity. The Arts Council’s investment will support Abandon Normal Devices to work with a variety of partners including festivals, museums and outdoor arts organisations. This will involve delivering an ambitious tour of new digital work to unusual venues such as caves, stately homes and castles.
Grant: £156,000 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: North
Led by Leeds-based Alchemy Anew, the Arts Council’s investment will support a network of organisations across the country to work together to connect established arts and cultural venues with inner-city Gurdwaras (Sikh centres of worship). The project will involve touring a production which explores the distinctive genre of Sikh music and the First World War, while also testing the viability of Gurdwaras becoming venues for future arts events.
Grant: £221,960 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: Midlands
The Arts Council's £221,960 investment will support EMCCAN to take the very best Caribbean Carnival artists, costumes and troupes from the East Midlands on tour to rural communities, seaside towns, established events and sports opening ceremonies across the country. This two year tour will help to create opportunities for more people to enjoy Caribbean dance, music, costume and design in the places they live, particularly in areas where there is low engagement with art and culture.
Emergency Exit Arts
Grant: £248,601 | Artform: Combined Arts | Area: London
Emergency Exit Arts has been awarded £248,601 for its project Paper Peace. Five new national partnerships will facilitate epic peace processions and performances, contemporising WW1 archives into poetry, paper and pyrotechnics. The high profile events will tour the country, leaving a legacy in developing and touring dynamic outdoor performance work.
Metta Theatre Ltd
Grant: £300,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Metta Theatre has been awarded £300,000 to produce a three-year audience development programme touring regional theatres across Doncaster, Birmingham, Derby, Exeter, Oxford, Wales and more, including their street dance Jungle Book, a circus-musical of Little Mermaid, and a hip-hop musical of The Wind in The Willows.
Grant: £81,008 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Deafinitely Little is a deaf-led bilingual touring theatre project developed in partnership with theatres across five English regions. A programme of audience development, participation and training activities will accompany high quality theatre productions, aiming to engage and retain interest from underserved deaf family audiences.
Graeae Theatre Company
Grant: £220,000 | Artform: Theatre | Area: London
Reasons to be Cheerful is a mid-scale musical featuring the iconic music of Ian Dury. After its acclaimed premier in 2010 and highly successful 2012 tour, disabled-led theatre company Graeae will receive £220,000 to tour to seven regions across England, serving communities where there is a need for diverse, high quality shows in mid-scale venues.
Spread the Word
Grant: £171,245 | Artform: Literature | Area: London
Spread the Word has been awarded £171,245 for The Young People’s Laureate Tour 2017-18. The tour will work with Library services in ten outer London boroughs, those with least engagement in the arts. Led by Caleb Femi in the project’s first year – London's first Young People's Laureate – it aims to inspire young people with poetry through the issues that most affect them.
Penned in the Margins
Grant: £38,000 | Artform: Literature | Area: London
Penned in the Margins has been awarded £38,000 to tour its project Fair Field, inspired by the epic poem Piers Plowman. Splicing together medieval and modern in a fresh mix of performance, poetry, music and art, Fair Field will engage diverse audiences in urban and rural locations with education, participation and digital activities.
Eye Music Trust
Grant: £82,006 | Artform: Music | Area: London
Eye Music Trust will receive £82,006 to continue to tour its successful 2014-16 Colourscape Symphony of Senses. Developments include: a new Symphony created with and by children with Special Needs and large-scale programmes of dance, music and fragrances at public venues across England.
Grant: £112,291 | Artform: Visual Arts | Area: North
This investment will support Bradford-based Impressions Gallery to mentor three venues (Turnpike, Bristol Cathedral and Bishop Auckland Town Hall) to stage ambitious photography exhibitions, and imaginative events including an outdoor photo studio. No Man’s Land Strategic Tour’ will reach new audiences, and will be a pioneering model for touring and audience development.
Ikon Gallery Limited
Grant: £120,000 | Artform: Visual Arts | Area: Midlands
Ikon Gallery is taking their canal boat on tour around the canals of Ladywood in Birmingham to offer local people new opportunities to enjoy contemporary art, including exhibitions and workshops, music events and film screenings. The Arts Council's £120,000 investment will support the Looping the Loop tour to create better access to art and culture for Ladywood's diverse communities through a programme shaped by them. The tour will bring national and international artists to the city and offer opportunities for training and skills development.
Grant: £153,919 | Artform: Visual Arts | Area: London
UP Projects has been awarded £153,919 for On the Bench, an artist-led commission by Harry Meadley for The Floating Cinema. The project will bring contemporary visual art to dispersed communities along the waterways of East Yorkshire. From large cities to small towns, each place will provide bespoke opportunities for local people to exhibit and create new work. A mentoring programme will build touring legacy into 2018 and beyond.
Download the list of successful applicants below.
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 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.