Great Places Scheme Puts Culture at the Heart of the Town

READING Borough Council will be looking to build upon the success of the 2016 Year of Culture, following the award of a £550k Great Place Scheme grant to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of the town.

It is hoped that the award, which was confirmed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England in April, will support the development of a range of cultural projects across Reading to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of communities and boost economic success. The support from 2018 onwards will also help to create the “Reading-on-Thames” festival, which marries Reading’s waterways heritage with a rich cultural programme.

The scheme will award Reading £550,000 from the National Lottery over a three year period to support programmes running until December 2020.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, said:

“I am so excited by this award and the impact that it will have on Reading over the next three years.

I was lucky enough to have been Mayor during Reading’s Year of Culture, and it will be brilliant to see us build on the success of this with an exceptional new programme to create a cultural legacy for generations to come.”

With so much going on in the town, these are certainly exciting times for Reading.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said:

“This is fantastic news for Reading. Building on the momentum of Reading’s 2016 Year of Culture this National Lottery investment will support a high quality programme of arts, culture and heritage in the town, helping to build an even stronger future for its people and economy.”

Any activity that will be supported by the Great Place Scheme award will be closely aligned with the Council’s priorities for supporting Reading’s economic success, and well-being of its residents. It is hoped that the award will contribute to a new Cultural and Heritage Strategy, with the over-arching ambition that, by 2030 Reading will be recognised as a centre of creativity with a reputation for cultural and heritage excellence at a regional, national, and international level.

A copy of the report going to Housing, Neighbourhoods, and Leisure Committee on Wednesday 5 July can be found here.


Notes to Editors

Key areas identified for Reading’s Great Place Scheme funding, to build on its already strongly developed partnerships and initiatives, are:

  • The formation of a new delivery board which embeds culture at a strategic level; the creation of new sustainable sub-groups for culture and supporting new delivery partnerships such as the Cultural Education Partnership (CEP), Reading International and Junction Dance;
  • Research by Reading University of local community needs and ongoing evaluation to inform the development of new cultural initiatives and interventions.
  • Delivering a community cultural outreach programme for targeted communities – connecting cultural organisations and partners such as public health, adult social care and education, creating a platform for mainstreaming cultural commissioning and helping to deliver key social outcomes;
  • Supporting delivery in 2018-20 of the new Reading-on-Thames Festival that is being developed by Reading UK CIC to cement and celebrate Reading’s unique riverside identity and provide a platform for cultural excellence. The festival will create a sustainable celebration of Reading’s identity, enhancing a sense of place for residents and business and promoting the attractiveness of Reading’s cultural assets to visitors;
  • Build from the business engagement success of the Year of Culture to embed culture and heritage in economic development and business strategies in Reading.

The Great Place Scheme is a new joint funding initiative by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Arts Council England (ACE) and History England (HE). The aim of the scheme is to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of the local vision for 12 places across England.

For more information on the Great Place Scheme visit:

Reading’s Year of Culture 2016 and its legacy

Strong partnerships between a range of organisations have played a key contribution to developing and delivering an impressively diverse programme of cultural and heritage initiatives and projects during 2016.

Hundreds of successful arts and cultural events as part of the Reading Year of Culture 2016 programme.

Further progress has been cemented by strong support and financial backing from both Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Numerous initiatives from the vibrant arts and heritage sector in the town are mutually reinforcing Reading’s reputation as a cultural hub, with many funded projects extending over the next few years, including:

  • The ambitious Abbey Revealed and Hidden Abbey projects;
  • The ‘Reading International’ –  a three year visual arts programme, led by the University’s new Institute of Heritage & Creativity in partnership with Artangel, the Council and Reading UK CIC;
  • The MERL and Reading Museum Collaboration project to transform the way the museums use technology, bringing collections and communities together;
  • The continued work of the Cultural Education Partnership (CEP) to provide all young people with opportunities to experience high quality cultural activity;
  • South Street Arts Centre’s re-launch in December 2016 after a major £500k refurbishment.


Victoria Nickless

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