We have come to the end of our Arts Council England enquiry into south east libraries touring, and with the support of artists and libraries from across the south east and beyond, we have gathered a great deal of information about the current shape of libraries touring in the region. We have discovered different approaches to programming arts in library spaces from community polls to creative arts partnerships and adventurous arts selection, each approach providing new experiences for library audiences.
We are very grateful to all library service staff across the south east who engaged with our enquiry, whether that’s through completing our survey, talking us about their experience promoting touring arts events, or taking part in our reference group. This group guided the enquiry and ensured that all learning and sharing considered the unique library perspective. We heard from 21 out of the 26 south east library services and from over 100 different members of library staff, from senior managers to front line assistants and volunteers. We also spoke to many artists practising different art forms.
Using all of the information gathered, the knowledge and experience from our generous collaborators and our own 25 years’ worth of experience as a rural touring organisation, we’ve put together two handy guides to libraries touring: one for libraries looking to host touring work, and one for artists looking to tour to libraries.
If you work in a library then please do download our libraries resource Hosting Touring Arts Events – The Really Useful Guide For People Working In Libraries. Whether you’re a library assistant, manager, community librarian, volunteer, or anyone working with programming touring arts in libraries or hosting shows in your library space, we hope you find it helpful.
If you would like a printed version for yourself or your library service, please drop us a line. Just let us know how many you’d like and we will get them to you as soon as possible. We want to share these resources as far and wide as we can – and hopefully provide you with some work-related reading material while lots of things are put on hold!
If you are an artist or touring company representative who is considering touring your work to libraries – whether that’s after the current situation has passed or perhaps you have an exciting digital offer to share now – download the artist’s resource The Really Useful Guide For Artists Touring to Libraries. We hope it gives you an insight into what to expect from taking your work to libraries, or if you are already well-versed in it, that it helps you approach it in a new and enriched way.
We have also created two info templates – one for libraries and one for artists and touring companies – to be used when liaising with each other. Each template contains suggested questions to ask each other and information to share, to ensure that both the artist’s touring experience, and the library’s programming and delivery experience run as smoothly as possible. These resources are based on the useful feedback we received from all the collaborators throughout the enquiry and so we hope they cover all the important areas which arise from booking through to evaluation, where libraries’ and artists’ worlds collide!
We would like to thank you all again if you have engaged with our enquiry and helped us to put these resources together. We are reporting back to Arts Council England with our enquiry findings and we hope our recommendations will support the future development of the south east libraries touring offer.