Second Year of ‘Reading, Place of Culture’ Funding Opens in January 2019

Museum object handling
Museum object handling

ARTS, culture, heritage and voluntary groups are being invited to bid for funding for the second year running, based on how they can help improve the quality of life of Reading residents.

Two pots of £15K and one pot of £30K are available for arts, culture and/or heritage community programmes to run activities over 12 months, with the aim of engaging local people, particularly those less likely to access cultural opportunities and where engagement could have a significant positive impact on their well-being.

Organisations must bid for the full amount but can work collaboratively together with other groups.

This is the second year of a three year project running to 2020. Successful bidders must work with one or more of the target priority groups identified. Year two funding strands encompass the main themes of:

·         Elderly Care: £15K for arts, culture and heritage programmes to work with older people, particularly those with long term conditions and in areas of higher deprivation;

·         Cultural Short Breaks: £15K (potentially increasing to £30K) to extend the range of cultural breaks provided to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities;

·         Mental Health and Wellbeing: £30K (funded in partnership with Berkshire Community Foundation) using arts, culture and heritage for early intervention, prevention, coping or self-management for mental health conditions and positive wellbeing.

The purpose of the fund is to enable arts, culture and heritage organisations to change how they work with the voluntary, community sectors and public services, to collaboratively contribute to meeting local social objectives.

Cultural Commissioning Workshop

There is a cultural commissioning workshop for interested groups to ask questions and go over the commissioning process at Reading Central Library on Thursday 13th December 11am to 1pm. To take part email

The tendering process is now live, and organisations are welcome to register and access the guidance documents and specifications. Register interest here:

There will be a two stage process and successful groups will be appointed in May 2019.

This year three successful groups were awarded 15K: Reading based theatre company Reading Rep; charity organisation PACT: Parents And Children Together through their community project Alana Hous; and The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in partnership with Reading Museum.

The fund is part of ‘Reading, Place of Culture’, supported by the Great Place Scheme, which is funded thanks to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England.

To find out more visit

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’m excited, as we move into the second year of this fantastic project, to see more local groups flourish. The three very worthy recipients for the Reading, Place of Culture funding in 2018 have all carried out some fantastic work in Reading’s communities.

“The Council has a priority to address local needs in innovative ways – and this project is helping contribute towards supporting the well-being of Reading’s residents. It has also encouraged arts groups to work collaboratively with voluntary and community sectors and public services to meet local people’s needs.

“Research has shown that engaging in arts, cultural and heritage activities has a wide reaching beneficial impact on people’s health and wellbeing; improving recovery from illness, promoting community spirit, combatting loneliness and relieving the pressure on GP services.

“I’d encourage interested groups to come along to the workshops this week, as they offer a great chance for local organisations to develop their skills in applying for commissions, with our guidance and support.

“Culture and heritage play a vital role in Reading and I’m delighted that the town continues to gain in reputation as a location of cultural excellence. I look forward to seeing longer lasting legacy of culturally enriching the lives of Reading’s residents.

“I’d also like to extend our thanks to the generous support from National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England, which has enabled this project to take place.”



In 2017, Reading Borough Council and its partners, Reading UK CIC and the University of Reading, successfully secured a grant of £558,471 thanks to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Arts Council England and Historic England for the Great Place Scheme.

The scheme funds projects in areas where there is a commitment to embed arts, culture and heritage in local plans and decision-making. The funding covers a three year period to support programmes running until December 2020.

The Great Place Scheme is designed to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of successful communities across England. Sixteen areas, including Reading, are piloting a new approach to enable cultural, community and civic organisations to work more closely together.

In Reading this will include supporting various community projects targeted at improving health, well-being and quality of life, as well as support for the Reading-on-Thames festival which marries Reading’s waterways heritage with a high-quality arts and cultural programme.

The Great Place Scheme award is external funding Reading Council has successfully bid for. That means it can only be spent on arts, culture and heritage related projects that formed the bid, rather than any other Council services. Activities proposed as part of the Great Place Scheme bid are strongly aligned with the Council’s priorities for supporting Reading’s economic success and the well-being of its residents.

For more information on the Great Place Scheme visit:

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives.  Find out more at

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment. Find out more at

Heritage Lottery Funded

Victoria Nickless

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