About on Tour

Rural Arts ON Tour was established in 1999 and is the nationally recognised rural touring scheme for North Yorkshire and East Cleveland. Each year 60+ performances take place in village halls and community centres over 2,500 square miles. The ON Tour team support community volunteers to book and promote performances in their village. –


ON Tour brings high quality professional theatre, comedy, music, dance and children’s shows to venues in rural settings. Our diverse programme includes international, nationally acclaimed and emerging companies. Previously, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Farnham Maltings have all toured as part of ON Tour. In autumn 2018 and spring 2019 we will be bringing high quality performances to rural venues including…Paines Plough, Dick Whittington ( Pantomime), Tangram Theatre, Odd Doll and Fuel Theatre.

Who We Work With

ON Tour’s ethos is to turn village halls and community centres into theatre venues for an evening. This is only possible through our network of 300 volunteers, who are committed to bringing performances to their community. Anyone can be a Rural Arts’ promoter, you just need enthusiasm and the support of your local community.


The Reading Room Neasham case study

 The Reading Room, built in 1902, is a small village hall and community facility in Neasham, which has successfully hosted a range of different community events for over a century. This has included performances by local musicians and amateur dramatics, including of course ‘the village pantomime.’ However professional performing arts had never been part of the events offer.


The idea to venture into Rural Arts was introduced by Tina Murray, a Reading Room Committee Member and former Treasurer who together with her husband, both keen cyclists, attended the Forum in Northallerton to see ‘Beryl’ a play by Maxine Peake about Britain’s greatest female cyclist Beryl Burton.  In Tina’s own words ‘I was absolutely wowed by the high quality of the production, especially in such a small town venue, so I decided to look into whether something similar might work in Neasham.’   


The proposal to register the Reading Room as a promotor with Rural Arts, with a view to hosting a show was put to the committee who agreed to give it a go. The wheels were set in motion and the first performance – ‘No Petticoats Here’ by Louise Jordan in November 2016 was a great success. Further performances followed with ‘Police Cops’ by The Pretend Men in March 2017; Wolves are coming for You’ by the Pentabus Theatre in October 2017 and most recently Burden of Paradise’ with Snake Davis on May 12 this year. Hosting a Rural Arts performance is both accessible and affordable providing a diverse range of events for the community and for all age groups. It is easy to select and to host a show with the added benefit that tickets can be sold through the Rural Arts website, as well as local sales. The success of Rural Arts in Neasham has enabled the Reading Room to obtain funding for a mobile stage, opening up future opportunities, as well as utilising a community asset to ensure it is sustainable for future generations.   


Lesley Blundell, Chair of the Reading Room says ‘I would certainly recommend Rural Arts, the performances that we have hosted have all been very different, but each has been of exceptional quality. I recall feedback from an audience member who came last year to see Police Cops (previously part of the Edinburgh Fringe) and her comment was – ‘What a great night – The Fringe has come to Neasham.’ And that really sums it up – high quality performing arts on your doorstep. Go for it.‘


On Tour in Darlington

We currently have six villages registered on the ON Tour scheme in Darlington, they are… Bishopton, Heighington, Sadberge, Neasham, Middleton and Croft. We would love to welcome new villages in the area or surrounding areas to ON Tour. We also have several villages registered in Hartlepool, Stockton On Tees and Redcar and Cleveland but would like to expand our reach further.


Get involved

If you or your community are interested in getting involved with putting on professional performances in your community please get in touch with Jo from Rural Arts: jo@ruralarts.org or phone: 01845 526536


‘Tonight’s show. That’s why I’m an actor. That’s what theatre is. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed myself on stage as much as this evening. Proper good’.

 ( Quote from one of the actors from Box Of Tricks productions ‘Chip Shop Chips’ after performing at Hart Village Hall).