Working with Libraries

Creative Arts East celebrate the power of libraries to positively impact communities, provide welcoming spaces for a diverse range of audiences, and to provide high-quality, accessible and welcoming arts experiences for people on their doorstep.

‘We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across this country. They are the country’s most widespread and well-used cultural spaces, sitting at the heart of communities and often providing the first point of access to cultural activity. They help to build stronger, happier communities, support social prescribing, develop readers and promote digital literacy. They will be central to our delivery of this Strategy, and over the next 10 years we will increase our investment in them. Let’s Create: Strategy 2020-2030. Arts Council England. 2020 p22).


If you are working in a library and you are interested in talking to us about anything to do with touring arts to library spaces and audiences, please get in touch with Julia


Please read on to discover more about our work around bringing professional arts to library spaces…


Books on shelves


Rekindle (2023-2026)


We are thrilled to announce that Creative Arts East are the project lead for the Arts Council England funded programme: Rekindle, a nationally significant arts development. This initiative places libraries at the heart of creative and cultural experiences for rural and underserved communities.


In collaboration with library and arts partners across Norfolk, Sandwell, Blackburn, Medway and Buckinghamshire, this pioneering three-year project (starting July 2023) will not only boost workforce skills but will also experiment with new models of audience engagement both within and beyond library spaces.


This ambitious endeavour will empower library services to strengthen ties with their local arts ecosystem through the cultural gateway of their arts partner, bringing culturally relevant and creatively vibrant activities to library users through a sustainable and innovative approach.


Rekindle aims to transform libraries into hubs of artistic exploration and cultural immersion, fostering a new appreciation for these community cornerstones. The project will support a boosted library workforce upskilled in cultural events and equipped with a robust and inspired relationship with their local arts organisations providing a sustainable foundation for arts in libraries for years to come.


Arts partners Applause Rural Touring, Black Country Touring, Creative Arts East, Farnham Maltings and Spot On will collaborate with their respective library services in Medway, Sandwell, Norfolk, Buckinghamshire and Blackburn with Darwen to herald a new and revolutionary approach to bringing locally relevant high-quality arts to the diverse communities surrounding libraries.


With strategic collaborators NRTF (The National Rural Touring Forum), Libraries Connected and Suffolk Libraries, the project will facilitate the creation of fresh artistic works and cultivate expansive networks across the library sector.


Find out more: Please get in touch with Julia


TAIL (Touring Arts in Libraries) Project by NRTF (National Rural Touring Forum), funded by Arts Council.

Creative Arts East is a partner in this project, alongside Spot On Lancashire and Libraries Connected.

The NRTF have been running a national project to:

  • Recognise and promote the high-quality creative activities already happening in rural libraries across the UK with relevant case studies.
  • Strengthen and boost ambition by sharing resources, contacts, expertise, and knowledge from across the rural touring sector and network
  • Fund opportunities to map, review, learn, expand, and develop the touring potential of libraries
  • Bring organisations and professionals together to network, support, educate and collaborate on a national scale

TAIL Project Summary:

Funded by the Arts Council England, the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) present a new national ‘Touring Arts in Libraries’ TAIL Project which looks to explore the challenges and potential of our nation’s libraries to expand their service offer and diversify audiences through a programme of touring arts.

The project has many offers available, including:

– Shadow support grants

– Go and see grants

– Final commission

– NRTF conference tickets

– Creative Professional Development Training for Library staff

– Marketing opportunity

– Artist directory

-Short promotional films


TAIL Resources

For Libraries – 10 Reasons to Programme Arts in Libraries and Libraries Touring Cheat Sheet

For Artists – Artists Touring in Libraries Cheat Sheet

Creative Arts East is a libraries partner, taking on a mentoring role of libraries in the south, as well as providing workshops and showcases online.

Touring Arts in Libraries – TAIL Project – NRTF (



Creative Arts East‘s Live and Screen events in libraries in the east

At CAE we have been working with libraries for several years, supporting library staff, volunteers and their communities to put on events in their spaces. Most recently we have mentored library staff and rural touring schemes nationally, supporting them in their libraries touring journey. Coming up this summer we are working with Norfolk Library Service to position some performances of family show ‘The Nosy Little Troll’ by Garlic Theatre, into Libraries across Norfolk.



Libraries Connected National Training Module for Culture and Creativity

In 2020 Creative Arts East were successful in a bid to create a Culture and Creativity Online Learning Module for library staff nationally, for Libraries Connected – the charity and sector support organisation for libraries.

The online training module was a comprehensive and engaging digital exercise for staff to embed key learning in their culture and creative programming. Connecting communities, improving wellbeing, and promoting equality were the cornerstones of this module’s approach. The module was launched in November of 2020.



Arts Council Southeast Libraries Touring Enquiry

In 2019 Arts Council England asked Creative Arts East to carry out an enquiry into the current shape of the libraries touring landscape across the southeast.

The aim of the enquiry was to identify the level of experience of libraries touring arts activity across the southeast. Which libraries were programming touring arts; what models of funding, staffing, planning and evaluation were being used; and what the various motivations and objectives were for hosting touring arts at libraries, and crucially, what support is required to further develop libraries touring? Similarly, we wanted to discover from artists their level of interest in libraries as a touring circuit, how they have found the experience of touring their work to libraries if they are already doing so, and what obstacles arose. We wanted to know what can be done to highlight the opportunities that are available to ensure that artists are well prepared and have a clear understanding of what that touring might involve.

Creative Arts East worked with many collaborators on this project, including library services from across the southeast, and artists nationally. Research was carried out through a survey, discussions and one-to-one and group meetings, and subsequently Creative Arts East put together a series of videos, resources, forms, and a report, based on our findings.

The report on the enquiry and its findings makes a series of recommendations, both short and long term.


Two useful resources have also been created to support libraries and artists which you can find below.

Hosting Touring Arts Events – The Really Useful Guide for People Working in Libraries

The Really Useful Guide for Artists Working in Libraries



Performer in a library



We’ve collaborated with people with libraries touring experience, across the south east and beyond, to offer videos covering several topics surrounding arts in libraries. You can see the full blog & video series below:

Introducing the South East Libraries Touring Enquiry

Partnering with Arts Organisations

Perceptions of the Library

Communicating about the Arts

Programming a Touring Arts Offer

The Importance of Evaluation