Touring will help us achieve our goal of more people in England experiencing and be inspired by the arts.

Our national approach will cover all of our development work and investment in touring, in particular through National portfolio organisations and our new strategic touring programme.

On 1 November 2011 we launched our strategic touring programme with a budget of £45 million between 2012 and 2015.  You can find out more about the programme here.

Touring activity will also continue to be funded through Grants for the arts.

Our definition of Touring

Touring activity is defined as ‘where the same artistic programme or event is taking place in two or more venues’. This covers all artforms, scales of work, and kinds of places, from outdoors to indoors, local to national. The artistic programme or event may involve live performers and/or exhibition artworks; it would be fundamentally the same event offered to all, but may involve some adaptation to suit the different spaces and contexts in which it was being presented.

Touring activity also relates to artistic programmes or events which take place at a geographic location, with some live element in terms of being close to performers or artworks and/or experiencing something with a group of people.  We recognise the growing interrelationships between touring and digital distribution and anticipate that this may be reflected within some applications to the programme.

Development areas 2012-15

We want people across England to experience high quality art touring to their locales.  In order to help achieve this, we have identified the following development areas for 2012-15. We will focus on the following areas:

Improving local access to high quality art

  • strengthen access to high quality work for people in places that rely on touring for much of their arts provision.  This will involve supporting venue managers, promoters and curators to increase their influence on the work which tours to their communities; and supporting artists, companies, agencies and producers to develop work which is appropriate to tour to these places
  • develop arts opportunities for people and places with the least engagement, by enabling more quality work to reach people in these areas.  We will have a joined-up approach to our development work within this priority   

Partnership working

  • work in partnership with those on the demand (promoters, curators, audiences) and supply (artists, producers) side of touring 
  • encourage stronger collaborative working among all of our partners, including umbrella bodies, local authorities and commercial organisations
  • support and develop the community, schools and outdoor infrastructure so that quality work can have the widest possible reach, both in terms of organisations that programme work and artists and companies and agencies that tour work 
  • support and develop networks and consortia, to help widen the reach and diversity of work that tours

National portfolio

  • work more strategically with the Arts Council National portfolio and other key organisations which tour, with equal importance given to how and where they tour and the work they produce.  We will ensure that the work of London-based National portfolio organisations funded to tour has a wide geographic reach
  • work in partnership with National portfolio organisations and the wider sector to ensure the best return for our investment in large scale work that tours, in terms of quality and range of work, geographic reach and audience numbers 

Children and young people

  • support more high quality work for children and young people to tour across a wider network, including schools, with a greater tie-in between this work and our other strategic children and young people activity 


  • ensure that artists and companies from diverse backgrounds have the skills and opportunities to tour their work, so that people across England are able to experience work by the widest range of artists 

Guidance framework

  • develop guidance for where we would like work to tour to.  This would give a basic framework to be followed by National portfolio or project-funded organisations as well as Arts Council England staff.