Reading Rep has officially broken ground on its innovative new theatre with support from Reading East MP Matt Rodda and lead councillor for culture Karen Rowland. The politicians visited the site separately in Kings Road where work has begun on the 168-seater new theatre. Following a successful £500k fundraising campaign, Reading Rep is looking forward to opening its doors on the new performance space next year.
Matt Rodda MP said, “Reading Rep is an exciting project which could offer huge benefits for Reading and the surrounding area, and I was impressed when staff showed me round the site before the lock down. I am keen to support them and I would like to wish them every success for the future.”
Cllr Karen Rowland Reading Borough Council (Lead for Culture), added, “I was delighted to be invited out to the ground- breaking of the new Reading Rep home, to envision the site in real life and not just on paper.
“Few things make me happier than looking at re-using older buildings for the arts. It is the right ethos. Its greener. It’s more accessible. And once Covid-19 is behind us, the winning crew of Reading Rep will be ready to deliver us some bang-up theatre again in a reimagined space.”
The theatre will provide a permanent home for Reading Rep to continue producing critically acclaimed and increasingly ambitious work as Reading’s only year-round professional producing theatre, as well as delivering outreach opportunities to those with least access to the arts.
Artistic Director Paul Stacey commented, “It’s really exciting to be on site, breaking-ground on Reading’s first new theatre in a generation. Doing so at a difficult time gives me renewed hope and excitement for the future. We can’t wait to invite the community we serve into this cultural hub to experience live entertainment again.
“The difficulties suffered by many during this epidemic have been immeasurable. Live entertainment has been shut down to an extent not seen since the war. We want to be part of inviting the public back into these venues to share in the magic of storytelling and to celebrate the Reading community.”
Executive director Nick Thompson also said of the government’s recent announcement of a £1.57bn support package for theatre and arts: “Cultural organisations play an important civic role in communities. This investment package is very welcome and acknowledges the significance of the sector. We look forward to hearing more detail as to how this investment will be disseminated to safeguard our vital cultural organisations.”
Moving from a basic 60 seat studio, the new Reading Rep Theatre arts 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 from a 1927 Salvation Army building by Total Projects, and is designed by David Hughes, the architect of the award-winning Park Theatre.
Fundraising for Reading Rep Theatre is ongoing, for more information and to donate, please visit https://www.readingrep.com/support-us/new-theatre/