National live literature project Inn Crowd Pubs+ awarded £525,000 funding from Arts Council England

Started in 2016, Inn Crowd is a partnership project from Applause Rural Touring, Creative Arts East and the National Centre for Writing, supported by Arts Council England. Inn Crowd supports rural pubs throughout the South East and East of England to host exciting and inspiring spoken word, poetry and storytelling performances in their pubs, reaching and engaging with non-traditional arts audiences. Inn Crowd also provides support to some of the UK’s best spoken word artists to create, develop and tour their work to new areas. Inn Crowd Pubs+ is a strategic progression of Inn Crowd and, following the award of a significant grant of £525,000 from Arts Council England, from Sept 2019 – Aug 2022 Inn Crowd Pubs+ will increase the production and touring infrastructure of live literature related work to venues across the country through key strategic partnerships with 6 new rural touring schemes. This will enable 330 live national touring dates, over 40% of which will take place outside the South East region. The touring schemes involved in the project are:

  • Carn to Cove (Devon and Cornwall)
  • Artsreach (Dorset)
  • Take Art (Somerset)
  • Live and Local (Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire)
  • Spot On (Lancashire)
  • Arts Alive (Shropshire and Herefordshire)
  • Original Inn Crowd areas: Applause Rural Touring (Kent and Sussex), Creative Arts East (Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire)

In addition to performances in pubs in these areas, touring will be further extended to a range of other new spaces such as restaurants, social clubs, cafes and bottle shops to reach over 30,000 audience members regionally, bringing people together and giving direct access to high quality performances in rural and isolated communities. Audience reach will be extended through digital distribution including broadcast screenings.

‘So brilliant to see something different in our little local, thank you’ Audience Member ‘Many people living in rural areas don’t have access to performances like this, and Inn Crowd has allowed us to bring the focus of the community to the pub’ Landlord

A key aspect of Inn Crowd is the support provided to artists, and as part of Inn Crowd Pubs+ there will be 28 new reshape and commission opportunities for live literature artists.

‘Inn Crowd is very important for increasing the audiences for live literature and spoken word. People don’t always live in easy access to a Theatre or Arts Centre so it’s nice to bring shows to people where they are. Inn Crowd has helped me work with a Director to get the arc of the story and to develop it to the next level.’ Andrew James Brown

Dawn Badland, Director of Applause Rural Touring said, ‘Arts Council England’s support to enable us to further develop Inn Crowd as a national model will be very welcome across the rural touring sector as a whole and shows their recognition of this ambitious and unique partnership programme.’

Natalie Jode, Director of Creative Arts East said,  ‘It’s been a pleasure carving out this unique touring model with our partners to date and we at Creative Arts East look forward to another 3 years of placing the audience firmly at the heart of the creative process and helping artists to reach the parts others cannot.’

Chris Gribble, National Centre for Writing CEO, added ‘Inn Crowd Pub+ offers amazing opportunities for live literature and spoken word artists to experiment with their work and create shows that can flex into a range of spaces in some of the country’s communities least well-served in arts terms. We’re delighted to be part of the second phase of this project.’

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Art takes place in a huge range of places ensuring everyone has the opportunity to experience something new and different. Inn Crowd is a great example of this, offering a wonderful opportunity for more people to experience brilliant performances, from the comfort of their local pub. I’m excited that we’re able to support this project to work with more pubs across the country and inspire a whole new audience for spoken word performance.

Inn Crowd Pubs+ will create a national platform for live literature in rural and non-traditional presenting spaces, and will enable more audiences, particularly those who are least engaged, to discover and enjoy this unrepresented artform on their rural doorstep. While Inn Crowd Pubs+ looks to the future, the success of Inn Crowd to date was celebrated last week as Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East were awarded Touring Collaboration of the Year at the National Rural Touring Forum annual awards.