Arts, culture and heritage in Reading

An overview of Reading's thriving arts and cultural scene. It is a base for many individual artists and arts organisations, from professional theatre companies to visual arts collectives, music charities and poets. Reading also attracts national and international quality artists to perform and exhibit in the town, in 2016, they ranged from Artangel to Zoonation. There is a demanding audience in Reading for art – three quarters of all visitors to Artangel’s Inside at Reading Prison were local.

Reading can claim to be one of the major heritage sites in the south east. The RSA rank Reading in the UK top 16% for historic built environment, 7% for industrial heritage, top 2% for museums, archives and artefacts. Reading is the burial place of King Henry I of England. His mausoleum, Reading Abbey, was one of the great medieval abbeys and is currently being conserved. Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen have strong links to the town, many of Britain’s famed Victorian architects, such as Soane and Gilbert Scott, designed buildings in the town and a number of the great names of late industrial Britain are synonymous with Reading – the biscuits of Huntley and Palmer, the seeds of Sutton’s and the beer of Simonds.

Reading celebrated a year of arts, culture and heritage in 2016 – showcasing the best of Reading as well as inviting new names to perform in the town. Highlights included Artangel’s Inside at Reading Prison, the first performances of Henry I by Reading Between The Lines Theatre Company, a season of open air town centre arts performances and events – ARENA and audiences with household names such as Lucy Worsley, Craig Revel Horwood and Tony Robinson.

Find out more about the arts organisations working in arts, culture and heritage in Reading.