Supporting and Promoting Arts in Rural Settlements of Europe (SPARSE) is a project designed to set up the rural touring model into four partner countries where it did not currently exist ie. taking performances by professional performing arts companies and artists into rural areas to rural audiences in local community venues.
In addition its intentions are to:
• grow the existence of rural touring networks in other countries,
• develop and share good practice with each other
• increase the knowledge of rural touring to artists and colleagues in the cultural sector
• seek resources to support our work
• advocate for access for rural communities to high quality professional arts activity
Our role in the project as associate partner, was to help develop a Capacity Building Programme, and to mentor the partners and their nominated local rural promoters, and to allow them to experience the UK rural touring model first hand, through a series of visits and meetings.
SPARSE helps to address the issue that many rural communities do not enjoy the same opportunities to enjoy high quality arts as their urban counterparts. It will create a network within each partner country that puts audience development and access to the arts by rural communities at its heart.
SPARSE brings together Take Art (Somerset) as lead partner with the Estonian Dance Agency, AMAT (Marche, Italy), Fish Eye ‘Artists Group’ (Lithuania) and Shoshin Theatre Association (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) as partners. Along with us, the project has 2 other associate partners with specific expertise in rural touring: Sogn og Fjordance Fylkeskommune (Norway), Region Varmland Kulturcentrum (Sweden).
After nearly four years SPARSE came to a conclusion in December 2021. The film that you can see below neatly sums up the project and we are proud to be associated with it.
We were delighted with the way in which the project unfolded. It has been a joy to meet and work with the partners in Estonia, Italy, Lithuania and Romania all of whom have showed great determination and dedication to make the project a success. We have achieved or exceeded all of our targets despite the complications caused by Covid. We have worked within a cooperative and positive atmosphere, learning from each other and contributing to the project legacies such as the evaluation report, website/Facebook digital platforms, film and toolkits.
The SPARSE Network is an exciting development that achieves the aim of creating a European Rural Touring Network. The original 8 partners and associate partners worked together through SPARSE and have created a Europe wide profile raising and advocacy movement.
The partners are committed to working together into the future and have spent several months preparing and submitting a follow up application to Creative Europe for a further 4-year project. Several partners (including ourselves) have been involved in submitting a successful Perform Europe cross border project application touring in 2022.
Through the development work that took place in bringing the partners together, we have introduced artists from Cornwall to performing arts managers in the partner countries which has resulted in a Swedish tour by Cheap Date Dance, a graduate company from Falmouth University.