Exciting Spring 2018 events line-up

The future looks bright for the arts in East Devon villages, after a rural touring scheme in Cornwall stepped in to help and secured major funding from Arts Council England.

Early last year, the Devon charity Villages in Action (ViA) called a halt to its work with volunteer promoters of bringing world-class music, theatre and dance to rural areas, after losing the majority of its funding. The only guarantee of funding for 2017/18 was from three local authorities, including East Devon District Council. Fifteen communities in East Devon regularly organised events through ViA and, while some decided to ‘go it alone’, others felt unable to do so without the support of ViA, which contracted the performers, agreed their fees, supplied publicity material and helped publicise performances.

However, Carn to Cove, which runs a similar scheme in Cornwall, offered to administer and co-ordinate the spring 2018 tours by performers in Devon, in order to retain the network of volunteer promoters and arts activity in the South West; as well as offering rural communities the chance to see professional acts at competitive prices, the scheme brings the local community together socially and helps sustain the viability of village halls.

Amongst the artists who will be appearing in East Devon in the coming months are; Devon based dancer Crystal Zillwood, Alison Neil, Budapest Cafe Orchestra, City of Light Theatre, Claude Bourbon, Devil's Violin Company, James Wilton Dance, Lily Neill, Mambo Jambo, Melange, Miracle Theatre, Neil Maya Quartet, Opera Dudes and Theatre Alibi. In addition, Carn to Cove has won a substantial award from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Strategic Touring Fund to develop its work in communities throughout the South West. The success of the application to ACE was in part due to the continued support of rural touring by three local authorities in Devon (East Devon, Teignbridge and West Devon).

The ACE award, for more than £140,000 over two and a half years, will enable Carn to Cove, working with the board of Villages in Action, to secure and resource the volunteer network in Devon so that rural communities have access to great art; provide advocacy to local authorities around the social and economic impacts of arts activity; develop new partnerships in Devon and Cornwall, and test new models of working between villages and market and coastal towns. 

The award will also support an international programme to present more diverse work of different cultures in the South West and enable the development of new online tools and web presence to improve box office income and therefore the sustainability of tours in rural areas.

Councillor John O’Leary, East Devon District Council’s Culture Champion, said:

This is great news which we wholeheartedly welcome as the Villages in Action events are so appreciated in our small communities. The council is keen to ensure that our residents who live in rural areas should have the same access to professional entertainment as those who live in our towns and we are happy to support this initiative with a grant of £10,000. The programme of events coming up looks really exciting and I hope they will be well supported.

The Villages in Action Spring season brochure is available on its website.