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University to launch new scheme for public art

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The re-opening of the refurbished University library later this year provides an opportunity to launch a longer-term intention to commission public art for the campus.  A pilot project will commission a small number of bespoke artworks in public spaces, under the overarching theme of ‘library’, funded as part of major capital projects.

Public art at the University of Reading will contribute to a thriving cultural environment on campus, demonstrating the value that the University places on arts and culture for the benefit of everyone. The University of Reading’s public art scheme is an opportunity to commission work that feeds into, and supports, core University priorities, including research, student experience, teaching and learning, impact and public engagement. The intention is for the public art commissioning scheme to continue in the long term, financed by a 1% contribution from future major capital projects (construction projects with a value of over £1m).


The project is part of the wider University Arts Strategy, under which a number of creative projects are being developed. Our aim is to create a place where ‘things happen’ for students, staff, and the wider local community.  Arts and culture provide opportunities for everyone across the University to think creatively within and beyond their discipline, and to connect with each other and with new ideas. This is a fundamental part of University life and our values, affecting our identity and sense of place, our learning and teaching, and our research.


In this context, public art fosters debate and promotes new connections, generating conversations between people living on, working at or visiting the campus, and can positively impact our lives and wellbeing. Public art provides spatial, visual, and conceptual focal points for the shared understanding of place, helping to forge a sense of shared identity both among the University’s existing communities and beyond.


The first commission will be in the form of an open call to artists working in any media, to respond to the University’s history, context, research interests and communities, within the overarching theme of ‘library’ as a concept. An open call allows an inclusive approach to identifying the broadest range of high-quality artist responses to inform our commissioning process.


Following a shortlisting process, concept development and interview, an artist will be appointed by members of the Public Art Steering Group, which represents diverse areas of the University, drawing on internal and external expertise in commissioning public art. Initial design ideas will be refined once the artist begins work, through research processes that will include engagement with University communities (including staff, students and visitors). We envisage that the first commission will be ready by the end of the calendar year.


Throughout the project, we are keen to reach out to all members of the University. A week of activities to foster curiosity and invite discussion about public art on campus will be held during week 8 (March 4th  – March 8th), with pop-up events, information stalls, drop-in workshops and talks for everyone to attend and take part in, and find out more about public art.


If you are interested in finding out more or getting involved, please contact Miranda Laurence, Arts Development Officer ( or follow updates on the Arts and Culture blog ( or on Twitter: @Rdg_uni_arts.


If you are interested in finding out more or getting involved, please contact Miranda Laurence, Arts Development Officer or follow updates on the Arts and Culture blog or on Twitter (@Rdg_uni_arts).

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