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Great art coming for everyone in Reading – University of Reading

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Great art coming for everyone in Reading

Release Date 21 July 2016

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World famous artists will turn Reading streets into a public art gallery over the next three years, thanks to a new £1 million project announced today (Thursday).

The Reading International project will bring world-class art to feature more centrally in the lives of Reading residents and visitors in the years ahead - beginning with ‘Inside: artists and writers in Reading Prison', a major new exhibition at the prison this autumn.

Art could help transform cultural and heritage opportunities in Reading with the provision of more regular outlets for the visual arts, the project leaders say.

The University of Reading will lead the million-pound scheme, in coalition with a diverse group of local arts organizations, national arts commissioning agency Artangel and Reading Borough Council. Reading International will be co-directed by artist Susanne Clausen and curator and former Turner Prize judge Andrew Hunt, with £495,000 of funding from Arts Council England.

'This project will put Reading firmly on the map of the art world' -- Susanne Clausen, University of Reading

Professor Susanne Clausen, head of the University of Reading's art department, said: "This project will put Reading firmly on the map of the art world.

"Reading International represents a quantum leap for contemporary visual arts and its audience in this region. Reading is a great town, but has been something of a cultural cold spot in the past, especially for visual arts. Together with our partners, we aim to change that and create a great offer for artists and audiences."

The project aims to build on the success of the Reading Year of Culture 2016, and will include:

  • ‘Inside: artists and writers in Reading Prison' - a major international exhibition at Reading Prison of new visual art and writing, inspired in part by the prison's most famous resident, Oscar Wilde. Led by Artangel, it will run from 4 September to 30 October 2016.
  • Re-appearing Reading - a celebration of Reading's distinctive and hidden heritage and culture with a series of artistic events across the town
  • ‘Reading' in Reading - a programme of events in schools, libraries and museums to explore contemporary art through literature and storytelling, designed to engage Reading's diverse local communities and residents of all age groups including the young and the elderly
  • Public art - a number of newly-commissioned public art works by international artists, to be displayed around the town
  • Reading Abbey revealed - interpretation of the Reading Abbey site by artists, in conjunction with the re-opening of the abbey ruins and Reading's developing ‘heritage quarter'


Reading International's projects, exhibitions and events will be staged in various locations across Reading, in and with visual arts organizations Jelly, OpenHand OpenSpace, Hogarth Productions, Rising Sun Arts Centre, South Street and at the University campuses.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: "Reading Year of Culture 2016 has been a really important step forward for the town's arts and cultural offer. Reading International will be a wonderful way to build on that success and so we are delighted to be able to support University of Reading's exciting plans.

"We have established a strong working partnership between the Arts Council, the University of Reading, Reading Borough Council and the town's artistic community. This has been an essential collaboration in helping to increase opportunities for artists, audiences and arts organisations, and more broadly the artistic ambitions for Reading as a whole."

'Thanks to Arts Council England's generous funding, we have a significant boost for Reading's aspirational journey to cultural success' -- Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council

Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council's lead member for culture, said: "Thanks to Arts Council England's generous funding, we have a significant boost for Reading's aspirational journey to cultural success. With this award, building on the success of our Year of Culture, we are well and truly on our way to putting Reading on the map as a major cultural destination and the Council is delighted to be a partner with the University and Artangel.

"By everyone involved working together, we can deliver the ambitious scope of this project for the long-term benefit of our artistic communities, residents and the town as a whole."

Nigel Horton Baker, executive director of Reading UK CIC, said: "The Arts Council England funding provides a long-term platform for the arts in Reading, allowing us to build on the momentum achieved this year to position Reading as a more attractive destination for business and visitors and as a place to work in the arts; Reading - a cultural place, business space and living base."

‘Reading International' is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through the Arts Council's Ambition for Excellence Programme.

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