By Sue Hardacre - 19th March 2014 6:00am
Cheshire Rural Touring Arts Promoters Day
Last Saturday CRTA convened a meeting of the people who, like Tarvin Community Centre, put on shows throughout Cheshire. It is a great opportunity for everybody to get together, compare notes and swap experiences.
There are 26 venues in the network and there are a great differences between them. Fallibroome Academy has a 370 seat, raked stage auditorium while at Little Budworth, the hall is filled to capacity with 57 people. Some promoters, like Tarvin, are part of their Village or Community Hall committee, but some are just committed and enthusiastic individuals who act independently, and, crucially, take all the financial risk. Judging what will 'sell' in each location can be difficult sometimes but there are some venues very willing to take artistic risks. Here in Tarvin we are still finding out what might appeal to our residents. What is true however is that all promoters know they are bringing high quality professional theatre to their audiences.
CRTA are currently preparing their bid for funding from The Arts Council to continue operating for the next three years. This grant makes up the bulk of their funding though they do receive — still — a small amount of funding from both CW&C and Cheshire East Councils. Promoters also pay a £100 charge to help maintain income and how this might be more fairly distributed formed part of a very lively discussion on Saturday. There are 36 rural touring networks in the country and, so far, government funding via The Arts Council has continued, albeit on a reduced level. There is much discussion at how much the funding benefits the big London venues to the detriment of the rest of the country so let us hope that adequate support for rural touring remains forthcoming.
All the rural touring networks encourage, sponsor and support the development of new pieces and work to help new talent flourish. A promoter's day always includes a show case piece and on Saturday it was performance by the Birbal Singh Dance Company. This wonderful piece combined north Indian Kathak dance and drums with boombox sound and contemporary dance. It was mesmerising, a wonderful synthesis of traditions and the grace, flexibility and sheer beauty of the human body was a joy to see (especially to someone who now struggles to touch their toes!). They have also created a piece to celebrate the Rugby League World Cup from the same diverse influences This company is looking to bring some of its work to the rural touring network, so you may be seeing them in Tarvin next year!
For more information on CRTA go to www.cheshireruraltouringarts.co.uk and for more information about the Community Centre go to www.tarvincommunitycentre.org