New Touring Arts to Libraries Resources for Artists and Libraries! 

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.

Resource Links

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.

Touring Arts to South East Libraries – The Importance of Evaluation

We’re all about the importance of evaluation here at Creative Arts East, and we want to share with you some of our thoughts on this topic, as well as sharing those of Sarah Bedingfield as our last guest vlogger. Sarah is the services manager for Innovation, Digital & Libraries for Kent County Council.

The latest one is now available to watch as an eight-minute talk from Sarah with her perspective on the Importance of Evaluation for Touring Arts in Libraries.

She walks us through the ways in which Kent Libraries approach evaluation. With 99 libraries across Kent, the service has a unique task in the south east in implementing an effective evaluation framework that works for such a wide range of libraries, events and audiences.

From understanding the reasons for evaluating which are specific to your service aims, to using the data gathered effectively, there is a lot to consider. Each library service is different and there are many different frameworks for evaluating. The key is tailoring your approach to suit the aims and objectives of your service and local authority, as well as collecting information which will form a complete and rich understanding of the impact of touring arts on your libraries and audiences – and ways to move forward based on what is found.

Considering evaluation collection from an audience perspective can also influence your chosen approach: whether that’s designing creative ways of collection, or working with touring companies to streamline evaluation so audience members aren’t swamped with feedback forms. There are ways to get useful information (feedback, numbers, social media analytics, conversations, observations, and audience profiling) which if done well, can support a more valuable experience, on the day of the event itself, and for future programming.

Click below to view Sarah’s vlog and the others in the series.

This vlog will explore the following themes surrounding evaluation:

– How to suit your evaluation strategy to your service

– How to define your outcomes

– Ways to incorporate equality and diversity in evaluation

– How to measure and collate evidence

– How to collect qualitative evaluation

– How to use your evaluation effectively

Let us know how your service approaches evaluation, we’d love to hear about any creative ways you go about collecting yours.

Touring Arts To South East Libraries – Programming a Touring Arts Offer

New Video!

We’re pleased to be sharing with you the new video in our series about Libraries Touring.

Dayna White, Programme Development Officer at Slough Curve talks us through how she goes about programming work for Slough Libraries, with audience development at the core of their programme.

As a Library Service, programming your arts offer can be a challenge to balance – whether you’re trying to reach new audiences to engage with your existing offer, give exciting fresh events to your existing audiences, or both, it is important to bear in mind if the arts events are pitched correctly – and that the library space is providing stimulating events of excellence and high quality, just as a traditional arts venue would.

There are some key things to think about:

Why are you putting on an arts event? Is it to reach new audiences? Or is it to challenge your existing audiences? Will this work reach that goal, and how do you know?

How do you know what these audiences are interested in seeing? Have you carried out a survey or spoken to people?

It is helpful to consider not just what audiences want to see, but why they would come along to see it at your library – is it convenient for them? Think about timing, transport and of course ticket prices.

Ticketing can be tricky to navigate – you want to make sure you are reflecting the quality and professionalism of the work you’re programming, but you also want to ensure it is financially accessible for audiences. One option is to set the general ticket price to show the high standard of work but maintain inclusivity by offering discounted tickets for certain groups.

A really important area to consider is quality measures: even if an audience member doesn’t relate to a piece, it’s key they can always recognise the high standard of the work they’re viewing.

Some examples of how to ensure quality when selecting work for libraries are:

  • Paying careful attention to how the touring company’s marketing looks, both in text and visual form
  • Looking at recommendations and reviews from people you trust
  • Going to see work or asking the artists for video footage
  • Checking who the artists are funded by
  • Researching what kind of work have they done before and whether they have experience with the audience you’re targeting

Take a look at the video here or by clicking the image below and let us know what you think. How does your library service go about programming a touring arts offer?

Survey

There is still time to complete and share the surveys below. They will close this Friday 13th at midday so get your final responses in now if you’d like to contribute to our enquiry!

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

 

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries – Communicating about the Arts

Members of the team at The Library Presents have kindly shared with us their experiences of delivering their Cambridgeshire-based libraries touring project, with advice on communicating about the arts in our latest video.

Joanne Gray, manager of The Library Presents, alongside project coordinators Katherine Roberts and Nathan Jones, share some valuable tips for writing funding applications that highlight your service’s existing work in providing arts and culture in your libraries.

They also discuss their approach to artist liaison, and ways to communicate with your team and library users about upcoming arts events.

Let us know your thoughts on ‘communicating about the arts’ as a library service. There are many approaches to this and we are keen to hear how your library service works with artists and shouts about the incredible things they’re doing with arts touring!

The next video will be available on December 9th and will explore quality and audience accessibility.

If you haven’t already, please complete and share the surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

An Important Date for your Diary

A reminder for our South East Libraries Touring Enquiry: Please keep Friday 20th March available in your diary for the upcoming Pitch Up Libraries event – open to all South East libraries as CPD, to attend a carefully curated day enabling direct conversations with artists, arts partners and other library services about future possibilities for enhancing your library service’s cultural offer.

Pitch Up Libraries will include a Library Service networking session, a key note from Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director of Libraries, presentations from artists who want to take their work to libraries, and opportunities to meet local arts partners.

The event will be available to book from 29th November so watch out for the link we will be sharing.

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries – Perceptions of the Library

We are excited to share with you the next video learning resource of our Libraries Touring series.

In our newest video on our YouTube channel Krystal Vittles, Head of Service Delivery at Suffolk Libraries,  discusses ways to develop audiences’ perceptions of libraries. She tells us how Suffolk Libraries have employed certain methods relating to marketing and branding to help them overcome perceptions, and be seen as a legitimate venue for great arts.

We welcome your comments and questions to feed into our enquiry. The next video will be available on November 25th and will focus on communicating about the arts as a library.

If you haven’t already, please complete and share out surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

An Important Date for your Diary

A reminder for our South East Libraries Touring Enquiry: Please keep Friday 20th March available in your diary for the upcoming Pitch Up Libraries event – open to all South East libraries as CPD, to attend a carefully curated day enabling direct conversations with artists, arts partners and other library services about future possibilities for enhancing your library service’s cultural offer.

Pitch Up Libraries will include a Library Service networking session, a key note from Sue Williamson, Arts Council England Director of Libraries, presentations from artists who want to take their work to libraries, and opportunities to meet local arts partners.

The event will be available from 29th November so watch out for the link we will be sharing.

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Touring Arts To South East Libraries – Partnering with Arts Organisations

Our enquiry has enabled us to speak with many people experienced in touring arts to libraries. We want to share our findings with libraries across the south east.

Here is the first of our video series for libraries who are looking into broadening their arts and cultural offer, or looking into ways to do it a little bit differently.

The thumbnail below takes you to the video on our YouTube channel, where Lyndsey Wilson from Spot On Lancashire will talk to you about how rural touring schemes can support libraries with arts events, and how a partnership might work. This video is about 18 minutes and is an ideal resource to focus a team meeting around.

We welcome your comments and questions to feed into our enquiry. The next video will be available in November and will provide information about challenging the perceptions of libraries to promote engagement with arts in library spaces.

If you haven’t already, please complete and share out surveys below.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

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Touring Arts to Southeast Libraries

Are you from a library in the south east? Are you an artist who has toured work to libraries, or is it something you are considering? You may even be from a library elsewhere in the country but have had a fantastic experience with touring arts you’d like to share.

In partnership with Arts Council England, over the next seven months we are looking into south east libraries touring. We want to find out how library services have been getting involved with touring arts and finding ways to provide their users with opportunities to experience arts and culture. We want to know what sort of work artists and touring companies have been touring to libraries, their motivations, highlights, and what insights they’ve had into good libraries touring models.

We aim to support libraries and artists offer more touring arts to communities linked with libraries, some of whom may not usually visit an arts venue. Libraries offer a neutral, familiar and welcoming space for everyone; the ideal setting for offering an arts event which provides enjoyment, learning, new experiences and a sense of community.

We would like to introduce Claudia West from Arts Council England, who is supporting our enquiry into libraries touring in the south east. Hear Claudia talk about our project and what’s up and coming for you to get involved with.

Survey

If you are an artist, touring company, or from a library service in the south east, please complete either the artist or libraries survey below, to help us find out ways to support more libraries touring in the southeast. The deadline for this survey is Wednesday 30th October. Please share the relevant survey with your network – we want to hear from artists and touring companies, library assistants, volunteers, senior management; people getting involved with touring to libraries in diverse ways so we can see the bigger picture.

Final Libraries Button  Final Artists Button Actual

Video series

Next month we begin collaborating with people with libraries touring experience, across the south east and beyond, to offer videos covering several topics surrounding arts in libraries. On the Mondays below we will release a video on this blog, and we will invite you to pose any questions to the presenter who can address those in their video.

Monday 14 October

Lyndsey Wilson, Company Manager at Culturapedia talks Spot On Libraries in Lancashire, focusing on her unique approach to working with libraries

Monday 11 November

Krystal Vittles from Suffolk Libraries discusses perceptions of the library in libraries touring

Monday 25 November

Joanna Gray, Partnerships, Projects and Funding Manager at Cambridge County Council talks arts partner and effective communication between libraries and artists

Monday 9 December

Dayna White, Programme and Development Officer from The Curve in Slough – with topic ‘knowing your communities, and knowing quality’

Monday 17 February

Sarah Bedingfield, Service Manager Innovation, Digital and Libraries, Kent County Council, discusses feedback and evaluation strategies which support more consistent arts activity

The deadline for submitting your questions for each presenter will be two Mondays before the video release – email questions to juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk

Learning Resources to support libraries touring

Based on our research, and what we learn from you through the survey, we will be creating a toolkit to support you in libraries touring. The resource will be available both online and as a handy booklet, which will be available at the Pitch Up event taking place on March 20th – see more about this below.

Pitch Up Libraries

An important date for your diary: Friday 20th March

Invitations for this event are to follow; for now keep the date in your diary to join us and library services from across the south east at a Pitch Up Libraries event. Taking place at Chesham Library, it will be an exciting day for libraries, artists and arts venues to initiate conversations for possible collaborations on touring work to libraries, and meet arts venues with the potential for partnerships in providing more enriching arts and cultural experiences for library communities.

If you want to find out more email juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk

SURVEY

Once again here are the survey links for artists and for libraries.

Please share this as widely as possible with your network: the more people we hear from, the more we can help people access arts in libraries.

Do get in touch with Julia at juliastafford@creativeartseast.co.uk if you would like to find out more about any of the above, or simply to share your libraries touring experience.

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The INN CROWD Project Welcomes its First BSL-Interpreted Show

As well as our rural touring live performance scheme, we run a number of other projects focused at supporting different communities across East Anglia to have access to fantastic live performances. One of these is the Inn Crowd project – which helps rural pub landlords put on live spoken-word style shows in the comfort of their pub, helping them to bring in more customers, offer something different for their regulars, and reinforce the pub as a vibrant, central part of rural community life.

We’ve been heading up this project in East Anglia for the last few years (it is also run in Kent and Sussex by Applause Rural Touring), with support from Pub Is The Hub, the National Centre for Writing, and funding from Arts Council England. We’ve had some amazing writers, poets and performers on the project, and have commissioned new work to be created specifically for pubs audiences through our Writers in Residence programme.

One such commission was a new show by acclaimed stand-up poet Luke Wright. Luke has previously toured through Inn Crowd with a show called Down the Pub with Luke Wright, a selection of his poems specially chosen for pub audiences, which was a huge hit last season. He received our ‘Writers in Residence’ funding back in 2018, staying at various rural pubs across East Anglia gathering stories and inspiration to influence a new show. Since then, he has been touring the country with his new 5-star show Poet LaureateThe Guardian has described the poems in this show as “rumbling with rage, passion and humour. They are also peppered with brilliantly smart observations”, noting that audiences “will leave his show brimming with energy, heart pounding and brain whirring.” He has another performance this weekend, and whilst we look forward to all our Inn Crowd shows, this will be a show with a difference…

Luke’s performance of Poet Laureate at The Banham Barrel pub this Sunday 14th April at 8pm will be the first ever Inn Crowd show to be accompanied by BSL interpretation. The Banham Barrel, run by father-daughter duo Brian and Niamh McAllister, is a new pub on our Inn Crowd circuit, and we’re delighted to welcome them on board. This will be their very first show with us but they are no stranger to offering live entertainment to their customers, hosting lots of music events in the ‘Back Room’, an amazing space they describe as their ‘not-so-secret’ gig venue. They have previously shown a fantastic commitment to opening up their space to the D/deaf community, holding sign-language cafes and other events, and it was their idea to bring in BSL communication for their first Inn Crowd show. As Creative Arts East’s main mission not just through the Inn Crowd project but as a charity in general is to open up the arts to audiences who might face barriers to accessibility, it was a no-brainer for us to make this happen and fund them to bring in an interpreter.

The approach The Banham Barrel are taking to reach out to people in the D/deaf community has come in part from the landlord’s daughter Niamh’s own experiences with hearing problems, which started last year. After realising she was relying heavily on lip-reading, she took a hearing test and was told she needed to wear a hearing aid at the age of 20. This then spurred The Barrel on to hold BSL sign language lessons for the village community. You can find out more about Niamh and the Banham Barrel’s outreach work with the deaf community here in this recent EDP article and BBC Look East coverage.

Luke Wright’s Poet Laureate is on at The Banham Barrel on Sunday 14th April, at 8pm. The show is completely free – no booking required. For more information on the show, check out our website here.

P.s. Our Communications & Content Officer Zoe went along to The Banham Barrel yesterday, to chat to Landlord Brian and his daughter Niamh, as well as reporter Shaun Peel of BBC Look East. We’re hoping to see a little piece about the show on this weekend’s news – so keep your eyes peeled! 

What A Year! Our Highlights of 2018

2018 was a huge year for us here at CAE. We’ve been shouting much louder about the significant and transformative impact the arts can have on rural communities, particularly in terms of health, wellbeing and aspirations, and have been committed as always to demonstrating this throughout all of our work. This culminated in us being crowned ‘Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year’ at the East of England Regional Finals of the Rural Business Awards, and we’ll be heading to the National Finals in February 2019 to compete against the winners of the other regions. The team have so many other highlights of 2018, and we’ve picked out a few of them to share below!

Our Day Out Celebration Events: One of our favourite parts of running the Spirit of 2012-funded Our Day Out project (participatory music and dance workshops for isolated older people in Norfolk), is when we bring all the groups together to meet up, sing and dance as one. In 2018 we had two fantastic events with our 6 groups: The Big Sing in March with musicians Mary and Kim, and the Sharing Day at Cley Wildlife Centre in October with Glass House Dance and Les Chappell. It’s such a joy to see our participants share in creativity and see just how much they get out of attending the sessions.

Films With Friends: We teamed up with South Norfolk Council and East of England Co-op to deliver the Films With Friends Project – an initiative aimed at making village cinema more accessible for people living with dementia and to raise awareness about the condition. Seven of our South Norfolk cinema groups took part – they received Dementia Friends sessions at their screenings; a ‘how to’ guide and training from academic specialists; and bespoke marketing to increase awareness amongst the wider community that these groups are taking steps to become more dementia friendly.

Take On Me: This was definitely one of the most exciting projects we got involved with last year! We teamed up with award-winning theatre company Dante or Die as they toured their 80s themed show ‘Take On Me’ to leisure centres across the country. We helped them bring it to Alive Oasis in Hunstanton, West Norfolk, and worked with an amazing Local Coordinator Debbie and an outstanding community cast to make the show happen. Our favourite outcome was the life-changing impact the experience had on the community cast, with many telling us how taking part had improved their confidence enormously.

Writers’ Residencies and Commissions with Inn Crowd: Last year, we’ve worked with the National Centre for Writing to commission two writers’ residencies in rural Norfolk pubs, as part of the Inn Crowd project. Inn Crowd supports rural pubs to host live spoken-word inspired performances and to engage different audiences that perhaps wouldn’t normally attend arts events, and reinforces the pub as an important community hub. Acclaimed spoken-word artists Byron Vincent and Luke Wright both spent time in different rural communities in Norfolk in 2018, observing rural life and how the pub functions as part of this. Their observations have formed part of new work, which will be touring pubs in 2019.

Our First Fundraiser: In December, we held our first ever fundraising quiz! We’re aiming to raise £25,000 during our anniversary year to ensure we can continue to make a difference to rural communities for another 25 years, and our Christmas Quiz was the first big event we’ve done to help us reach this target. It was a fantastic night, with friends, family, staff and board members joining in on the fun. Keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for the total amount raised!

So that’s some of our highlights of 2018… what are yours? Were you involved with or did you attend any Creative Arts East-supported projects last year? What were your favourites?

We’re looking forward to an exciting 2019 ahead, so do keep up to date with all of our news, content and upcoming events via our blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and monthly e-newsletter.

“Great to have Theatre ‘Out in the Sticks’”

Since 2016, we’ve been working in collaboration with fellow rural touring organisation Applause (who do what we do – but in Kent and Sussex), to deliver a unique programme of spoken word-inspired performances, specifically tailored to rural pubs! INN CROWD’s aim is to support pub landlords in offering something a little different to their regular punters and attract new customers too, by enabling them to host high-quality performances in their pubs. This helps cement the pub as a vital part of rural community life, and allows local people the chance to see fantastic professional live art in a familiar and comfortable setting, often without having to travel far at all.

The third season of this brilliant project has just kicked off, with INN CROWD’s first co-production in the form of ‘Holmes & Watson: The Case of the Rhyming Crime’ by Dr Illingworth and Mr Simpson, delighting audiences in 4 rural pubs (The Burston Crown, The Wheatsheaf in West Beckham, The King’s Head in North Lopham and The Dun Cow in Christchurch). As well as this commission, the INN CROWD project will see local pubs host performances by critically acclaimed and award-winning poet Luke Wright (Norfolk and Norwich Festival hit for 2 years running); a one-man play where the famous Lord Byron regales local pubs with his tales of debauchery and romance; and an interactive show called ‘Voted Out’ by local performance poets Mark Grist and Tim Clare, in which audiences can use state-of-the-art technology to interact with the performance, voting real-time on the subject of the poems themselves. Other upcoming events include shows by duo Living Spit, who will deliver their unique brand of musical comedy, and previous INN CROWD hit David Mynne with a one-man version of Great Expectations.

So if you fancy a bit of poetry with your pint, head to our website to see if INN CROWD is coming to a pub near you! If you’re a pub landlord who’s interested, or an artist with a story to tell, more details about the project and how you can get involved are on the INN CROWD website. If you’ve been along to an INN CROWD event and want to share your thoughts and photos, use the hashtag #INNCROWD on Twitter and Facebook!

“Bring entertainment to the pub; that’s what pubs are for. Bring the villages together. Fantastic!”

INN CROWD is a partnership project run by rural touring organisations Creative Arts East in East Anglia and Applause in Kent and Sussex, with artistic support from Writers’ Centre Norwich and expertise from Pub Is The Hub. It will continue until 2019, with majority funding from Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairburn Foundation.