We always think the place we are is the centre of everything. Nobody wants to feel isolated, or left out. Lancashire has an immensely beautiful and diverse landscape from the dunes to the wild Pennine hills. Our communities are equally diverse. But it is also close to the national parks of the Dales and Lake District. I remember a Dutch tutor on my masters course, telling me about his family holiday. We drove to Liverpool from Harwich, he said, because we wanted to see a match at Anfield. Then “we went past Blackpool and on to our holiday cottage in the Lakes”. Went past. Excellent M6! We want to make Lancashire a go-to county, not a go through one. A place people hear of, and want to talk about and visit for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
We are active members of the newly formed Arts in Rural European Areas, a creative network of about 250 small venues, touring networks, producers and artists who work in a rural context right across Europe from Ireland to Croatia, Portugal to northern Norway. This is part of our passionate vision to share good practice and collaborate with others to put everyone’s rural place on the map.
We are currently exploring an application to Perform Europe to find new ways of touring artists. The industry has been seriously harmed by Covid rules, and in the UK, Brexit is a huge headache harming incoming and outgoing artists. Why tour? How can we tour sustainably, affordably and reach remote communities? AREA are so new, they are still building a website. But the groups meet regularly to share ideas, identify common research and explore new possibilities. This post will be updated when we can add a link.
When you talk to a colleague in southern Italy about their festival or hear of rural touring in Sweden, or of a theatre in rural north Norway, it is instinctive to want to visit. So, our team wants to do the same for Lancashire- make what we do exciting, inspiring and worth visiting. A place to go to.