for Arts
& Culture
Combined Arts | Across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland

Highlights Rural Touring

Highlights Rural Touring Scheme works across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland to bring great arts and culture to rural communities, supporting professional arts events in small community venues, from village halls to schools to community centres.

Highlights Rural Touring

Highlights Rural Touring

Highlights Rural Touring

Highlights Rural Touring

Target Beneficiaries

Highlights Rural Touring works with isolated communities in the North of England, many of which have experienced long-term economic decline, resulting in high unemployment, poor transport links, declining social services and social isolation.

Their work aims to combat this isolation by bringing people together for high quality arts events that they would otherwise be unable to access, ranging from music to dance to comedy and theatre.


Highlights Rural Touring undertakes a range of activities to deliver high quality arts to local communities, including:

  • supporting a network of local promoters involved in the development of a performing arts and creative engagement programme in the area
  • making the arts socially, geographically, economically and physically accessible to rural communities across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland
  • providing training opportunities for promoters to develop skills
  • improving access to the arts for people living in isolated areas
  • providing quality and choice at a local level
  • building new audiences at grassroots level
  • promoting the work of multi-cultural companies to rural venues
  • co-commissioning new work suitable for rural venues
  • supporting a sustainable local economy, encouraging audiences and companies to use local amenities
  • supporting village halls as viable community centres, contributing to the upkeep of the hall and social life of the village

They work in partnership with Arts Out West to deliver events throughout Cumbria.


Highlights Rural Touring

Audience and Participation Numbers


















  • 41.5% of audience respondents said the type of performance was new to them
  • 68% of respondents to the Highlights’ Contemporary Craft tour said this type of exhibition was new to them
  • 83% of companies who toured with Highlights said that pre-show support was excellent
  • Achieved total box office of £70,826 (£64,193 of which went to Highlights and £6,633 was kept by village venues)
  • Received volunteer support totaling £53,205 value contributions


I’ve never experienced opera before. The goose bumps I got from it means I will have to go again.

Arnside, Cumbria

I try to go as much as I can to Highlights performances. I love the fact that you can see top quality drama, music, comedy arts and crafts at small venues around our region. That they have taken the trouble to come to rural areas to perform is always gratifying. It is really important that this happens and to be able to reach people whom, going to the theatre is not easy and they are able to access it.



Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council, South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council.