Theatre & Arts Reading (TAR) is delighted to have received funding to do a feasibility study on the Reading Gaol site to ascertain if a new theatre could be built there.

Arts Council England (ACE) has given a £20,000 grant and with matched funding from the Trafalgar Entertainment Group and Festival Republic, TAR has been able to commission architects Foster Wilson to undertake the study.

This will look into where a theatre could go on the site in Forbury Road and possible uses for other buildings that are not protected within the gaol walls.

Chairman of TAR Melvin Benn said:” We are grateful to the Arts Council for the funding and very excited to be looking at the gaol site.

“The gaol would be a wonderful place to have a new theatre and possibly other arts facilities.”

Tim Foster of Foster Wilson said: “We are very excited to be undertaking this design study to look at the opportunity to develop a large-scale theatre for Reading, which will enhance the town’s cultural offer and create a home for high quality touring theatre.”

Input into the study will also come from Trafalgar Entertainment – a theatre operator headed by Rosemary Squire, Sir Howard Panter and Greg Dyke.

Ms Squire said: “We’re excited by the possibilities presented by the gaol site.  Reading has a lively arts scene and a thriving town centre with huge potential for a landmark theatre – we’re very much looking forward to bringing Trafalgar Entertainment Group’s expertise to the study.”

Cllr Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport and deputy leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “The Council welcomes this study. It builds on the obvious potential seen first-hand by thousands of Reading people last year when the prison was open for theatrical performances, historic displays and wider cultural appreciation. I urge the Ministry of Justice to announce the much-delayed timetable for disposing of this historic site.”