What is slow touring?
Slow touring expresses a desire (from artists, communities, tour presenters and funding bodies) for audiences to experience a deeper engagement with a touring performance, often through activities such as skill sharing (e.g. workshops, residencies, exchanges and collaborations) and collaboration on creative projects (e.g. recreating the work for/with local audiences).
The 2011 National Performing Arts Touring Framework identifies 'community engagement' as one of four foundation principles and a priority recommendation under 'development goals' (p. 3, National Touring Framework: Are we there yet?). Consultation with the sector revealed:
‘Deeper community engagement was noted as a high priority throughout the consultation process, summed up by the catchcry ‘longer, slower, deeper’. Many artists expressed a strong desire to slow down the pace of touring, to find out more about the place they are visiting and the people who live there, and to share skills and collaborate on creative projects with locals, whether the general public, specific communities or local artists. Similarly, many presenters are beginning to see the staging of finished works as just one part of their program, and attending to it as just one of a number of ways their community can engage with touring art and artists' (p. 51, National Touring Framework).
Community engagement helps grow audiences for dance, which is particularly important for regional venues. But the authors of the National Touring Framework acknowledged that community engagement activity 'stretches the definition of touring and the scope of the touring system and funding programs' (p. 52, National Touring Framework).
Additionally, not all dance works are suited for engagement activities, which requires specific managment skills, resources and community relationships. But we've found a tour that we think is an excellent audience engagement case study—Danielle Micich's 2012 Western Australian tour of the dance work Shiver—which successfully managed and delivered community engagement activities. The following two videos share:
- the Shiver tour documentary, which beautifully presents the community engagement activity, and
- a 2013 Marketing Summit case study of the tour and a discussion between the panel and audience about the power of community engagement resulting in potent audience development.