The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands) are the seventeenth recipients of Hands Up for Trad’s Business Limelight Award. The “Limelight’s” are a monthly initiative (launched in October 2012) that recognises the outstanding contributions made by businesses and organisations who contribute, shape and influence the arts and cultural sector in Scotland today. The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands) are a rapidly expanding company promoting Scottish culture in the Highlands with exciting events and festivals.
We asked Sam Eccles of The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands) the following questions.
What is your principle company activity?
The Touring Network starts where established venue map of Scotland ends – beyond the urban main stages and flagship cultural facilities – to community spaces that are transformed into performance venues.
We work to connect, support and represent those who deliver cultural events of the highest quality in rural and island communities across Scotland and to make this activity visible to the widest possible audience.
We provide a unique model for touring support across rural and island communities, where local promoters operate and programme independently, with the network acting as a central point of contact for performers and as a marketplace for their touring shows.
Our work starts where the established venue map ends – beyond the urban main stages and flagship cultural facilities – to community spaces that are transformed into performance space. This may be the local village hall, school auditorium, heritage centre or pub, garden or woodland, but from the start of performer get-in to the get-out, these spaces operate as micro venues.
It is these spaces that we recognise to be a key asset supporting the cultural life of Scotland. We believe that the geography of Scotland should be no barrier to accessing these experiences and that every community, however small, should have opportunities to participate actively in cultural events of the highest quality.
When and where did the company first start trading?
In 1998, the members of the growing network formally established PAN – the Promoters Arts Network – an independent, membership-led organisation. PAN’s membership expanded beyond the Highland Region to include the whole of the area covered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise: Northern Isles (Shetland, Orkney), Western Isles, Highland, Argyll & Bute and Moray, where the organisation dovetails with the North East Art Touring scheme. As the network grew, it became increasingly clear that, whilst the principle of promoter independence remained as central as ever, a greater range of options for support and development were needed. This has led to a sustained period of organisational change and growth, as recognised in the re-branding of PAN as The Touring Network.
The Touring Network builds on these strong foundations to ensure that all those who make cultural events happen in their communities are valued as a central, indispensable and celebrated part of the cultural life of Scotland.
What made you want to work in Scottish culture?
We want to ensure that Scotland is a country filled with remarkable performances, connecting people and transforming places; where any community, of any size, anywhere, can be a cultural centre.
Can you tell us of any particular company highlights?
Every performance that happens across our network of venues and communities needs to be highlighted for what it is – a special, event of incredible intimacy – epic in its spirit and engagement.
The effect of performance taking place in the heart of communities is transformational – for the building, the audience and performer.
The number and variety of performance is extraordinary – coming from as far away as Sotho Sounds form the Kingdom of Lestho; as unforgetable as the Michael Marra memorial gig in Resolis; The Angus Lyon & 3G tour… where to stop?
What are your company’s plans for the future?
Where to start?
Keep an eye on #epicstage – the amazing photography, the chairs on the move, and our marketing campaign signposting the incredibly high quality events taking place across the Highlands – over 700 per annum!
We are working to support musicians more in their touring – making it more financially viable and equitable, and helping link them to and with the increasing number of promoters across the Highlands & Islands.
We will also be rolling out additional support to new and existing promoters to ensure they are best equipped with all the skills needed to pull together the stunning programme of events for their communities.
How will you celebrate receiving Hands Up for Trad’s Business Limelight award?
Cake… definitely cake – and perhaps even a wee sip of Cava!
Contact The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)
10 Ardross Street
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