Rural Touring Dance Initiative

Highlights is very proud to be one of five other cultural partners, who collectively make up RTDI.

Hosting one of the three regional RDTI coordinators will enable us to bring more high quality dance to our network of village halls and market town venues in the north of England and Scotland, from Aberdeenshire to Cheshire.

In addition to first-class performances there will be opportunities for adults and children and young people to experience dance for themselves through workshops and interactive pre and post show events. The aim of the project is to get more people in rural communities engaging with contemporary dance than ever before.

Rural Touring Dance Initiative

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) is a national project which supports dance artists and rural promoters to make great dance performance events happen in rural spaces.

RTDI was launched in 2015 when The Place, National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF), China Plate and Take Art joined forces to address the lack of quality dance in rural spaces. From the start, RTDI has introduced some of the UK’s leading dance companies to rural touring including Lost Dog, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Uchenna Dance, Scottish Dance Theatre, Mr & Mrs Clark, Jo Fong and George Orange, and Joshua ‘Vendetta’ Nash.

“It is hard to put into words how special rural touring is. It is almost like visiting family you haven’t yet met.”– Artist (RTDI 2 Evaluation report)

Over the years RTDI has transformed UK rural dance touring. An evaluation report of the project’s second phase published in 2022, highlighted that 98% of audiences enjoyed watching the performances, with 88% saying the experiences made them want to see more dance, demonstrating demand for high quality touring dance.

In July 2022, the current RTDI partners (The Place, Highlights Rural Touring, NRTF, Sonia Sabri Company, Take Art) were awarded £400,000 from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and £450,000 from Arts Council England to continue the project from 2023 – 2026. As well as supporting up to 10 new Associate Venues to programme dance in rural areas and market towns, many of them in Levelling Up for Culture places, the funding will enable RTDI to support eight dance artists and companies per year to tour their work to rural areas. This will deliver over 200 performances and 90 workshops between autumn 2023 and summer 2026.

“RTDI is a brilliant scheme that encourages and supports artists of all experiences and backgrounds to develop their work for rural touring including first-timers! … Through rural touring one can have a greater personal connection with the audience and the audiences are always keen to let you know how they experienced your performance”.
– Sonia Sabri, RTDI Partner/ Artist

17.6% of the population of England live in a rural area, as defined by the Defra & ONS classification(which includes rural towns & fringes). Many of these people find it harder to access cultural activities than those in urban centres, but RTDI has shown that this doesn’t mean there is less demand.

Their evaluation of the first six years of the project has shown that the main reason audiences attend RTDI events is because they want to see dance. The second most common reason is that they want to see something different. RTDI exists to respond to this demand – to make connections between brilliant dance artists and their work, and rural programmes and audiences.

Learn more about the RTDI at

RTDI: Autumn 23/Spring 24

In July 2022 RTDI partners announced a national open call for dance makers with tour ready shows. Artists who wanted to tour their work to rural areas applied, and the seven shows were selected by a panel which, for the first time, included an artist and a promoter.

We are excited to support these eight incredible productions to develop tours and meaningful relationships into rural communities. For more information on bookings or engaging with RTDI please contact Susan Coffer, RTDI Coordinator (North) [email protected].


The Place exists to develop, nurture and celebrate dance ideas and experiences for all. One of Europe’s most exciting, innovative dance spaces, where artists from all over the world come to push creative boundaries, to experiment and to perform outstanding new work for audiences who expect to be surprised, inspired and delighted.

National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) networks, develops and supports the ecosystem that delivers high-quality creative experiences across communities and rural areas in the UK.

Sonia Sabri Company is a dynamic company which has established an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context.

Take Art is a unique, life-changing organisation that doesn’t live in an arts venue, dance studio or whacking great theatre but in the villages, towns and rural communities of Somerset.