The Importance of Touring Theatre

As a performer and theatre reviewer, I’m always excited to discover when local theatres are hosting touring productions.

In the last month, I have been lucky enough to see two touring performances at the Lowry Centre in Salford. One of which was the classic Hollywood musical ‘The King and I’ and the other, a play called ‘Murder in the Dark’ a new production, which I was unfamiliar with before booking. This led me to consider why touring theatre is so vital to the arts industry in regional areas and how important it is to have a variety of performances available to you no matter where you live.

View of the stage at The Lowry, Salford for the production ‘The King and I’.

Accessibility and Spontaneity

So often large-scale productions are completely inaccessible to those who don’t live within a short distance of London or have the means to get there regularly. After all, let’s face it, theatre is often costly and by the time you have accounted for travel to and accommodation in the capital, the experience can often cost a fortune.

Due to this, if people do decide to embark on a trip to the West End they will inevitably see a show they already know they will enjoy. This sadly makes it a lot more difficult for new writing to get any traction. The beauty of touring theatre is that people are more open to spontaneity and seeing something they have perhaps never heard of before.

The two productions I was able to see were a fantastic example of why touring theatre is so crucial to the arts scene in our regional areas. Famous theatre productions are a great way to engage people who are perhaps not usually theatregoers and once venues can secure this engagement they are then able to promote less-known productions, often resulting in further bookings and engagement with the theatre. This in turn allows the regional theatres to then support emerging artists and smaller-scale productions, often giving new artists and young theatre makers the vital breaks and publicity they need.

Inspiration and the Future

Touring theatre can often be an important introduction to the theatrical world for many young people. Engaging youth in the arts within regional areas is one of the most essential things for enabling diversity within the sector. After all, if the only young people who get to see the full spectrum of theatre are all from the same locations and socioeconomic backgrounds, then chances are the sector will lack representation in the future. Inspiring people from all walks of life is what keeps the arts industry dynamic and interesting and stops it from feeling completely inaccessible for so many.

Furthermore, getting young people into the theatre with notable touring shows aimed towards them can often result in more enquiries with the regional theatre’s youth programmes, giving them a safe space to explore the realm of theatre and socialise in a world that feels more socially disconnected than ever.

A view of Media City, Manchester.

Economic Benefits for the Local Area

Many touring productions, even some of the biggest scale ones such as ‘The King and I’ are no longer only touring the bigger cities and instead are bringing their shows all over the country, even in smaller, more remote venues. This provides an invaluable level of monetary support for these theatres and the local area.

As I stated earlier, a trip to the local theatre is significantly more cost-effective than a trip to London. This is also of huge benefit to local economies as the money that people would spend going to the capital remains within the local area. The money spent on a trip to your local theatre, and maybe a meal out beforehand, will stay within the community, which is a win for everyone.

Ultimately there are many reasons why touring theatre is necessary for regional arts. From bringing a significant boost to local economies during a challenging financial landscape for many businesses, to providing access to theatre productions that would otherwise be out of reach for people living outside of London or those who don’t have the financial means to travel. It also has the potential to inspire young people from various backgrounds resulting in a richer and more diverse theatre scene all around the country.


If you’d like to see some theatre, you can check out what’s on at a theatre near you by clicking here!