£9K Funding Announced for Oxford Road ‘Community Story Telling’ Project

READING COUNCIL has been awarded £9,231K from Historic England, to initiate four exciting ‘Community Story Telling’ activities focussed around the Oxford Road in west Reading.

Reading’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) team and other partners, including Reading University, will be looking to engage with Oxford Road area communities to explore people’s real stories of the area to amplify the local heritage and rich multicultural history of the road.

Planned activities include:

1.      The Oxford Road Storyboard – focusing on identifying “Who we are” as a theme that brings to light all the fabulous stories along the Oxford Road;

2.      Oxford Road shop window art gallery – bringing together local communities, shop keepers and local artists to re-imagine shop fronts and other parts of the high street as gallery and spaces;

3.      A Story-telling promenade performance along the Oxford Road (also filmed and shared online);

4.      Creative and inventive Covid public safety artwork interventions which link to both heritage and the Oxford Road businesses.

This pilot project will be developed as a springboard to a more in-depth exploration of ‘Community Story Telling’ for the wider Heritage Action Zone programme, which will help to promote a sense of place and identity, mutual respect, understanding and cohesion.

Pilot map
Pilot map

The Council’s wider High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme will run for 3.5 years until 31 March 2024. The project aims to breathe new life into the high street areas within the Castle Hill/Russell Street/Oxford Road, St Mary’s Butts/Castle Street, and Market Place/London Street Conservation areas of the town.

To find out more about Reading’s HSHAZ visit: www.reading.gov.uk/planning/reading-high-streets-heritage-action-zone

Cllr Rowland, Reading’s Lead for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I am so excited by this innovative project working directly with our communities and shop-keepers along the Oxford Road. This is a real chance to celebrate our diverse community and to breathe new life into areas of the town through cultural and creative activities.

“The idea of the HAZ is to future-proof our high street areas by highlighting the heritage of our radial high streets. The Oxford Road is a medieval road out of Reading Town Centre and has a vibrant history that manifests itself today in its multi-cultural, colourful streetscape. It is hoped that people will more readily note and come to understand the Oxford Road’s exciting Heritage through this programme.”

High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme is part of a nationwide initiative designed to protect and enhance the town’s historic high streets. The programme will focus positively on the attributes of the streets’ heritage to future-proof their environment and businesses, making them more attractive, enjoyable and vibrant destinations for people to shop, relax and spend time in.

The scheme launched nationally on 19 September. To find out more visit: https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/funding-for-historic-high-streets-recovery/

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About High Streets Heritage Action Zones

Historic England is working with local people and partners through grant funding and sharing our skills to help breathe new life into high streets that are rich in heritage and full of promise – unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme, backed by government funding, aims to help with the recovery of local high streets from regenerating historic buildings to helping to engage local communities through art and cultural projects.

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email victoria.nickless@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 3957