Oxford Road HSHAZ Mural

£30K grant announced for further Oxford Road projects

  • Call out for community groups and artists to apply for funding
  • Next step in the High Street Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programme

READING COUNCIL is offering funding to individuals, groups, organisations and communities from the Oxford Road to discover creative opportunities and develop exciting new cultural projects in the area.

 The Council’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Cultural Programme is offering a share of £30,000 to develop new projects with local people to celebrate the history and diverse cultures of the Oxford Road. 

The Council is welcoming applications for grant funding from community groups, artists or creative individuals, with links to the Oxford Road area and experience of delivering high quality, co-created projects to local communities, as well as reaching residents who do not normally have access to creative opportunities.

Three pots of £4,000 are available to share between community groups/organisations and artists/creative practitioners. There is a simple two-stage application process, with the first stage the completion of a 1-page expression of interest form or a 4-minute film/audio recording. The deadline for these applications is Friday 10 December 2021.

Two pots of £9,000 are open to applications specifically from artists and creative practitioners. The deadline for this funding is 5 pm Friday 14 January 2022. Additional support will be available from CultureMix Arts for early-career artists and creative individuals such as those with less than 3 years’ experience.  An established and respected Reading-based arts organisation, CultureMix support will be tailored to meet specific needs, provided through skills sharing, peer support and mentoring. 

For more information on the essential criteria and how to apply please email HSHAZ@reading.gov.uk

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said:

“I am delighted our High Street Heritage Action programme is continuing to champion Reading’s communities, unravelling the fascinating stories and rich diversity of the Oxford Road. The cultural programme has co-creation at its heart, engaging with and bringing cultural opportunities and activities to our residents who might not usually have access to this type of experience.

“We’re seeking applications for creative and cultural activities of all kinds, from singing to sculpting, to painters and photographers - our brief is as broad as it can be! We don’t just want to hear from artists – we want grassroots community groups to come forward with their ideas.

“Our Oxford Road pilot project has already begun to raise the profile of the area’s vibrant history and rich diversity, commemorated in the work of four local artists. I’m excited to see where this next stage of the journey takes us in discovering with the community the treasures of the Oxford Road.

“The concept of the HSHAZ is to future-proof our high street areas by highlighting the heritage and cultural riches that are already there. We want to protect and enhance these historic areas – as well as celebrate their uniqueness. Each area that will see improvements has its own unique flavour and each has its own stories to tell.

 “Grasping the specialness of an area is not something everyone can identify directly, but it is through the magic of artistic and cultural expression that the special qualities of a unique area can be more easily understood and embraced by all. Ensuring that our radial high street areas out of the town centre are also equally exciting, vibrant places that Reading’s residents want to be in, projects such as these also mesh beautifully with our City Status bid and go to enhance Reading’s reputation regionally and beyond. 

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Historic England – without their generous funding, this amazing project could not happen.”

 Emily Gee, Regional Director, Historic England in London and the South East, said: “This is a great opportunity to be part of an exciting cultural programme welcoming people back to the high street. Community-led events have the power to enliven the town centre and inspire people’s love of their area and offer a chance for visitors to see all that the Oxford Road has to offer.” 



Notes to editors

About High Streets Heritage Action Zones 

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.


About HSHAZ Cultural Programme

Reading Council was awarded an £85,000 grant in May 2021 from Historic England as part of the Reading High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to create and deliver community-led cultural activities within the HSHAZ area high streets over the next three years.

Reading is one of more than 60 towns within the HSHAZ national programme to receive a share of £6 million for their cultural work within the scheme. Grants of up to £120,000 have been awarded to local arts organisations for cultural activity on each high street. Reading’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone team, led by Reading Borough Council and other partners, including The Museums Partnership Reading, will run a programme of exciting new cultural activities to complement the wider project over the next 3 years in three historic areas of Reading.

Planned activities include an open call for cultural community projects in the Oxford Road area, continuing the work of a recent pilot project ‘Re-imagining the high street through your stories’ which concluded with three exciting art projects courtesy of local artists Baker Street Productions, Gemma Anusa and Caroline Streatfield.

With the new funding, work can be continued from the pilot project on Oxford Road; grass roots community groups and cultural organisations will have the opportunity to lead cultural activities as well as having access to a mentoring scheme that aims to support groups to access funding in the future.

Other activities will be focused in the St Mary’s Butts/Castle Street and Market Place/London Street heritage areas, with the theme of exploring and telling the hidden histories of these historic high streets areas through community co-produced research and resulting in art installations in the local area.

This is part of the four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time. The Council’s wider High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme will run for 3 years until 31 March 2024. The project aims to breathe new life into the radial high street areas of Reading off of the immediate town centre.

About Historic England 

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation.

We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

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You can also follow @HistoricEngland / @HE_SouthEast