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£500k rural dance scheme launched

Dancers from Spilt Milk, one of the first companies to tour under the Rural Touring Dance Initiative. Dancers from Spilt Milk, one of the first companies to tour under the Rural Touring Dance Initiative.
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A £500,000 scheme aimed at increasing dance touring across rural parts of the UK has been launched.

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative, a three-year project, has been launched by the National Rural Touring Forum and seeks to address an under-representation of dance in rural areas. A report by Arts Council England in March found just 2% of national portfolio dance companies toured to rural regions in 2012 and 2013.

With a total budget of £500,000, of which £379,560 comes from ACE’s Strategic Touring Fund, the scheme includes one full production grant of up to £45,000 and two seed commissions of £3,600 available to UK artists and companies. In total, 115 shows will be staged as part of the project.

It is being run in partnership with contemporary dance centre The Place, independent theatre studio China Plate and Somerset agency Take Art.

Director of theatre and artist development at the Place, Eddie Nixon, said: “We’re looking forward to introducing rural audiences around the country to the rich diversity of performance that dance artists are making at the moment, and to be supporting those dance artists to embrace the huge opportunities that rural touring has to offer.”

Arts Council England touring director Michelle Dickson said the project had been driven by demand.

“The partnership between Take Art, the Place and China Plate will not only create and tour high-quality dance to audiences in village halls across the country, but it will also develop skills in rural touring in dance companies and local promoters which should help to ensure a long term legacy,” she said.

The first round of work in January 2016 will include Phoenix Dance, Sonia Sabri, Spilt Milk, and Norwegian Dance Company Panta Rei.

A week-long residency for four dance companies to develop ideas for rural touring will take place in November 2015, with two being awarded seed commissions of £3,600 each to develop their shows further.

Applications to the scheme close on Friday September 10.

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