Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


On the road again - Touring Guide

On the road again

Creative New Zealand publishes guide to touring the performing arts

Everything you need to know about putting a show on the road in New Zealand - from hiring trucks to managing cash flows and looking after your sponsors - can be found in The Touring Manual: a guide to touring the performing arts in New Zealand, published this week by Creative New Zealand.

Written by Fenn Gordon, an independent producer of theatre and dance since 1989, The Touring Manual is a practical, how-to guide aimed at small to medium-sized arts organisations. It contains a wealth of information for first-time touring companies as well as handy reminders for seasoned tourers.

It's hardly a book that Ms Gordon herself needs after 14 years on the road organising tours for artists such as Miranda Harcourt, Douglas Wright, Michael Parmenter, Madeleine Sami, Flight of the Conchords and Tim Balme.

She was prompted to write it, however, because she says people were frequently ringing her and asking her for advice. It was also something she could give her to her mother "to prove that being a producer was a real job".

And sometimes an exhausting one at that. So why tour? In the conclusion to The Touring Manual, Fenn Gordon writes: "For most of us who produce tours, touring is addictive. We come off the end of producing a tour vowing never again. But then you see a show that excites you and you're off again."

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Elizabeth Kerr says The Touring Manual is a valuable resource for the arts sector and will answer most questions about touring a show in New Zealand.

"The manual reflects Fenn's extensive experience and is full of sound advice, checklists and lively anecdotes," Miss Kerr says. "Creative New Zealand supported this project because it's provided the arts sector with a practical tool to help them build audiences and develop the market for New Zealand arts."

Creative New Zealand has identified audience and market development as a focus for the future, Miss Kerr says. As well as increasing its staffing in this area, the organisation recently published another practical guide for the sector, called Smart arts: a guide to marketing arts events in New Zealand.

As the producer of more than 100 touring shows, Ms Gordon is all too familiar with the wide variety of challenges involved in touring and working with artistic directors to realise their vision within a given budget.

She recalls the time when she was working with choreographer Douglas Wright in 1994 to remount a tour of his work, How on Earth. Wright wanted a bungy-jumping cow carcass on stage but after consulting her veterinarian father and learning that touring with a real carcass wasn't a practical option, Ms Gordon approached Richard Taylor at Weta Workshops. The result was a carcass that looked so real the flight attendant at the check-in counter was reluctant to let it on board.

Planning, Ms Gordon says, is the key to a successful tour. As a producer, you need to put everything in writing, have a passion for lists and an eye for detail.

A couple of other pieces of advice she offers: "Be prepared to negotiate with everyone from the cast and crew to the accommodation providers." And learn the lingo. "As a female producer, being about to talk to truckies about luytons and five-tonne trucks gets you instant respect. It will also save you money."

Chapters in the 220-page Touring Manual cover a range of topics, including legal structures; managing your finances; rights and royalties; venues; and selling your work. There's also a chapter about touring Mäori theatre, written by well-known playwright Hone Kouka.

The Touring Manual is available free from Creative New Zealand by contacting

You can also download it from the Resources section of Creative New Zealand's website

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland