About us

Highlights Rural Touring Scheme connects over 65 venues, an army of volunteer promoters and an ever-growing list of artists. Together, we bring great arts and unmissable culture to rural areas, lighting up village halls, schools and community centres with music, dance, theatre and storytelling.

Set up originally to work with isolated communities in the North Pennines, we now work across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland. Across the three counties, many communities have suffered from long term economic decline, resulting in pockets of high unemployment, poor transport links, declining local services and social isolation.

Our events bring people together, providing drama, music and laughter. Some of the halls are small and intimate, lending themselves to music or one-person shows, others are large and luxurious, and can showcase some of the larger-scale theatre we programme. There are refreshments and raffles, and often some of the most amazing cakes made by local people, but most of all there is always the warmest of welcomes.

We are one of 30 similar schemes which support professional arts in over 1,000 small community venues throughout the UK, playing an important part in the social life and sustainability of their community and supported by the National Rural Touring Forum. We work in partnership with Arts Out West to deliver a collaborative programme of events throughout Cumbria.