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Asking Touring Questions

With funding schemes being reallocated, now seems like a good time to re-state the importance of resourcing touring while asking the Arts Council to consider its touring funding framework in light of the current operating environment for companies and venues.

Here are a few questions for starters:

Is Touring a policy priority?

The Artist and Public Engagement are the Council’s policy priorities with two goals:

  • Artists are supported to make excellent work which is enjoyed and valued.
  • More people will enjoy high quality arts experiences.

The Council’s investment strategy states that funding is deployed effectively to realise priorities and goals.  Common sense suggests that Touring is one particularly effective means to deliver on both these goals.  If so, is or should Touring be a policy and funding priority?

Is the Touring Scheme fit for purpose?

The simple questions are often the hardest to answer.  What’s the best and simplest Touring Scheme structure to facilitate artists and companies as well as venues and networks?

With uncertainty about and changes to the Touring Scheme, including a reduction in the funds available, changes to the number of rounds and the timing of decisions, the question is whether the current funding framework makes for ease of application, use and administration?  Is it suited to current and future conditions?  Is there a better one to ensure that at every stage – development, production, presentation and touring – resources match artistic ambition as well as the audience targets of programmers?

Any Touring funding scheme must also take full account of Brexit and protect all-island touring and funding after March 29 next year.  The scheme must evolve to keep the complexities of new barriers and borders, hard or soft, out of performing arts touring and ensure that audiences in Ireland and Northern Ireland will get to enjoy high quality and diverse arts experiences.

Is there a joined-up approach to developing, producing and touring work?

Do funding schemes manifest a joined-up approach to development, production and touring, properly resourcing companies and artists to achieve artistic and production excellence?  All this seems so obvious, but is there a more joined up way of thinking about resources for artists and companies, while dramatically reducing their application and admin workload?

Is competition on the double for Touring funding getting the right result?

Securing funding is nearly always competitive. Mostly the competition is within an artform or geographical area, between colleagues and sometimes collaborators.  Touring is doubly competitive: artforms are in competition with each other while companies, artists, venues and networks across the country are all in open competition too.  Is there a way to make touring a policy and funding priority and a more equitable way to distribute resources across artforms and geography?  Touring funding needs to be more than a scramble for what’s left over.

Is Touring funding enough?

Audiences in every part of the country have a right to expect and experience excellent work in a venue near them on a regular basis.  If there’s too little funding available, work is presented too infrequently, artforms are not represented in every season and audiences go elsewhere.  But when is enough, enough?

Do you have a Touring question?

While budgets are never unlimited, it’s time to assert the importance and a value of touring to ensure its properly resourced and works better artists, companies, venues, networks and audiences.

Mail us with your touring funding question.

Photo Credit ©Ste Murray