Reading Rep Theatre today announces that it has reached its funding target and raised over £1 million for a new cultural arts hub in Reading. The company, founded in 2012 by Artistic Director Paul Stacey with an initial investment of just £500, will open its first permanent home in October 2021, housing the multi-award-winning Reading Rep Theatre and providing a space to bring the local community together as it emerges from isolation.
Reading Rep is Reading’s only year-round professional producing theatre, and the new cultural hub will provide the facilities for the company to continue producing critically acclaimed productions, as well as delivering participatory projects to those with least access to the arts. The venue will open in October 2021 with a bold new artistic season of work, with details to be announced.
Paul Stacey, Artistic Director, today said, “With the light at the end of the tunnel of this incredibly challenging year now shining brighter than ever, we can’t wait to open our new doors later this year and share space, laughter, and stories with our community and audiences again. We have been so humbled and delighted by the support we have received over the last two years – our new cultural arts hub is a significant next step for Reading Rep and for Reading, and we are so excited to share what we have planned for the first season in our new home!”
The company began its life in the black box theatre at Reading College, producing packed out plays on a shoestring. Before long, Reading Rep grew to be a beloved home and playground for many of the UK’s leading theatre-makers, including Barney Norris, Roy Alexander Weise and Mischief Theatre. Collaborations and co-productions with leading regional and London theatres including Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Arcola Theatre and Oxford Playhouse placed Reading firmly within the national theatre landscape.
With community at the heart of the artistic vision of the company, Reading Rep created ENGAGE in 2015, the flagship community outreach programme providing access to the arts for Reading’s most vulnerable communities. ENGAGE provides a year-round programme of workshops, delivered in partnership with Reading Libraries, Reading Borough Council, the Cultural Education Partnership, the NHS and numerous others, that has reached 15,000 children, young people and adults in the last 18 months alone.
With critical acclaim and sell out success, Reading Rep was ready for a new and permanent home, and in 2018, just six years after its first production, the company began raising funds to convert a former 1927 Salvation Army Hall. The new cultural hub will include a 168-seat theatre, a permanent education and learning centre, backstage areas, new front of house facilities, and a café/bar. The building is being converted by Total Projects, and is designed by David Hughes, the architect of the award-winning Park Theatre.