Creative Arts East, in partnership with Arts Council England, have undertaken an extensive period of research into how library services receive touring arts and provide their users with opportunities to experience arts and culture. Following this research they have produced a comprehensive set of resources including toolkits and information templates carefully tailored for artists and for libraries.
Libraries offer a neutral and welcoming space to audiences who often don’t visit traditional arts venues, making them the ideal setting for touring arts events which provide enjoyment, learning, new experiences and a sense of community. Creative Arts East aim to support libraries and artists in offering more touring arts to communities linked with 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 info 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 100 different members of library staff, from senior managers to front line assistants and volunteers. We also spoke to many artists practising many 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 resource guides to libraries touring: one for libraries looking to host touring work, and one for artists looking to tour to libraries.
Toolkit For Libraries
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!
Toolkit for Artists
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 - Libraries Information Sheet and Artist and Touring Company Information Sheet – 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.
The latest videos from Creative Arts East in their series on Libraries and Touring
Krystal Vittles, Head of Service delivery at Suffolk Libraries, discusses ways to develop audiences' perceptions of libraries.
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.
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.