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25 March 2024

Creating Innovative European Connections

Arts Council England's International Touring and Environmental Responsibility Programme

Continuing to develop innovative cultural connections across Europe, despite the B word, we were one of the last UK organisations to receive Creative Europe funding. The Liberty EU Programme, from 2018 to 2022, commissioned work from young artists across Europe with touring opportunities, to each of the 12 partners in the programme.

Now we’re aiming to develop new creative and cultural European ties as we’ve been selected for the ACE International Touring and Environmental Responsibility Initiative.

Thanks to partnerships with Arts Council England, The Danish Arts Foundation and Arts Council Norway, this innovative scheme, led by Julie’s Bicycle, aims to develop relationships between artists and companies based in Denmark, Norway and England, supporting them to develop new environmentally responsible approaches to international touring and collaboration.

Having previously established partners in Denmark through the Liberty EU programme, Aalborg Karneval and Swinging Europe, we hope that this new scheme will also lead to further cultural connections and inspiring content to bring to the UK.

Our CEO/Creative Director Paul Steele sees huge potential in the programme and potential funding: “Since 2010, we’ve worked with 13 partners in 11 European countries, commissioning and touring new work to festivals and events, so it’s fabulous to establish new connections in Norway and Denmark. Much like our Re/action Festival explores environmental issues and sustainability, these are also key priorities for the cultural sector right now. It’s a privilege to take part in this explorative programme and we’re excited to see what might be created and shared through these partnerships.”

Around 8 organisations or artists from each of the countries participating are going through a series of online development sessions and are then able to apply for project funding in partnership with one another to fund concepts originating from the programme. Other successful UK candidates include, amongst others, Manchester-based outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Brighton-based Bright Black creators of interactive, immersive and playable culture, plus The Caravan, an artist and producer development initiative by Farnham Maltings.

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director of Arts Council England, said: “We are incredibly pleased to hear that Art Reach will be part of the International Touring and Environmental Responsibility Initiative’s 2024 cohort, a scheme co-ordinated by Julie’s Bicycle to support organisations in developing environmentally sustainable approaches to international activities. Art Reach has a strong body of international and environmental focused work, and we look forward to seeing this go from strength to strength in the future.”

Since the programme was launched in 2021, 40 organisations and individuals have participated generating many projects representing innovative ideas and collaborations, pushing the boundaries of international touring and exploring new ways to address environmental and sustainability concerns within the performing arts sector.

You can read more about the International Touring and Environmental Responsibility Fund here: ITER Programme

A dancer wearing a white t-shirt and black jeans is drawing against a white surface as part of a performance.

Image: Matt Cawrey

A musician in an orange suit is playing a clarinet at an outdoor parade. In the background is a set of balloons and other people in the parade.

Image: Matt Cawrey

This image shows a person wearing a carnival costume, the suit looks like newspaper and the mask a a big, colourful, skeletons face. The dancer is waving a yellow handkerchief and in the background is a small carnival float with a flower painted on it.

Image: Pete Martin Photography

This image shows two young performers singing into microphones. They are performing outside a small black gazebo and there are some guitars in the background.

Image: Pete Martin Photography