The Gathering 2022 with the Touring Network
On Thursday 28 April, I caught the west coast train from Glasgow Queen Street with Taylor Han, Kae Sakurai and Jenn Taggart. Our destination was Oban, for The Touring Network’s Gathering – an event that usually happens annually bringing together their membership of rural venues and performing arts promoters with artists, performers, musicians and companies interested in performing across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The event was hosted at the recently opened Rockfield Centre – a cultural hub for Oban.
Here are some reflections from Taylor, Jenn and Kae about their experience:
I put myself forward to be supported by the Work Room to attend this event because I’ve recently made a work that I felt could connect well with communities. I’d heard of rural touring and had taken part in a rural tour as a performer, but I had very limited experience with the producer/lead artist side of rural touring. My questions were along the lines of: how do you know where to go? How do you connect with venues? How do you know who might be interested in your work?
The Gathering answered a lot of those questions. We had the opportunity to network (ah! – scary word), but network in a really calm and relaxed way that didn’t feel forced or awkward. In fact it was lovely to chat over dinner and dessert, and we each even got up and did a wee turn, talking about what we do, and Kae even performing some step dance – no easy feat after all the delicious food!
It was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about other venues, meet other artists and promoters and connect in person in a really relaxed atmosphere. It opened my eyes to the number of venues and village halls that were hungry for artists to connect with – it made the idea of organising a rural tour feel more tangible and possible.
The second day of the Gathering was a showcase of work, some artists that were already booked on rural tours and some that were looking to be booked. It was wonderful to see such an array of engaging work, from bands to children’s theatre, to dance, to comedy. The atmosphere was welcoming and supportive and it was a delight to be in the room with such talented artists.
We ended the weekend with a listening circle, where each person in a group of ten had the opportunity to reflect on their experience of The Gathering. What is said in a listening circle is confidential, but there was an overwhelming sense of connectedness and respect between everyone.
As an artist I had the opportunity to learn about venues that I wasn’t aware of, swap emails with those who seemed interested in my work, and be inspired by the other wonderful artists that were in attendance. I left feeling motivated and hopeful about where I might take my work in the future, and hungry to see more work by other artists too!
If you’re curious about rural touring I would highly recommend the experience the next time it rolls around.
It was such a great experience & I learned so much about the Touring Network and what opportunities are available to dance artists for rural touring. Being able to network with artists from different disciplines, programmers and other organisations was so beneficial and I learned more about different venues in Scotland. We also got to see some of the works that had been booked by the venues already; a mixture of dance, musicians and bands, comedy acts and theatre. All were really entertaining and helped to show me what kind of things these types of venues would be looking for.
Networking began on the way to Oban. We met a lots of people going to the event already on the journey. The touring network organised dinner on the Thursday night - the Work Room team all took a turn, well I was brave enough to do a wee step dancing after fish & chips dinner! Well, it was worth it as I think I got more networking opportunities later on. And I felt the performers who took a turn made a bit of bond and made a great connections.
The second day we watched a lot of excerpts of shows! So many good shows in live! - I felt privileged to be there. Touring network selected variety of shows, from Theatre, Comedy, Dance & Music. I was inspired by shows it selves but also inspired by performers energy and passion who kept it going during pandemic (in a creative way). I thought’ Live shows’ for small venues can be incredibly powerful as you can watch so closely.
The networking opportunities are not only between performers and promoter, venues but also between performers - one of musician gave me a card and said ‘get in touch with me, we are looking for a step dancer’
Lastly it was great opportunity to know more Anita, Taylor and Jenn better. We came back journey with giggling a lot but importantly I've got lots of tips for working with children from spending time talking to Jenn and Taylor about their teaching practice.
Thanks to Work Room for this opportunity.
Find out more about The Touring Network through their website and social channels:
As part of The Gathering, Jen Wren’s company, Slanjayvah Danza presented an excerpt of their show, 3 Shoes, 6 Feet, which is touring in the Autumn. See more here.
Image by Beth Chalmers