Reading Rep Theatre announces plans for its award-winning ENGAGE programme over the next 24 months, providing high-quality access to the arts for Reading’s most vulnerable communities.
Thanks to generous funding of £200,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund and Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund, ENGAGE will provide a summer programme and full participation programme accompanying the company’s artistic season over the next two years, ensuring that everyone in Reading, no matter their background, has the opportunity to access Reading Rep’s work.
Over the next 24 months, the ENGAGE programme will deliver 1000 hours of free workshops per year, reaching 10,000 people. The programme will collaborate with 50 local organisations including 7 Reading libraries; 25 local schools; 3 higher education institutions; 5 youth groups; and
10 voluntary and community organisations, which includes Alana House for vulnerable women, Compass Recovery College – a mental health and wellbeing charity, Purley Park Trust which supports adults with learning disabilities, Bounce Back for Kids which supports children who have been victims or witnesses of domestic abuse, and the NHS. This will culminate in a festival of work in 2023, bringing all the organisations together for the first time to celebrate what Reading has achieved.
Paul Stacey, Founding Artistic Director, today said, “We think of our productions as much more than what the audience eventually gets to see, we think of them as a Participation Project; an opportunity to engage with communities that otherwise might not be heard. It is these communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic and we can’t wait to welcome them to our new venue to collaborate and make and experience art together.
The participation projects at the core of Reading Rep’s inaugural season in their newly built theatre include:
- Made in Reading, accompanying DORIAN, exploring cultural history and future, and Wilde’s imprisonment in Reading Gaol.
- Dear Mr Scrooge, accompanying A Christmas Carol, in which six primary schools throughout Reading will stage their own response to A Christmas Carol.
- Stranger than Fiction, accompanying Jekyll and Hyde, exploring the real man behind the legend, in partnership with numerous community groups throughout Reading,
- Alby The Penguin Goes to the Library, accompanying Alby The Penguin Saves the World, which aims to provide thousands of early years children with their first experience of theatre in partnership with Reading Libraries.
- Dare to Dream, accompanying A Midsummer Night’s Dream, making Shakespeare’s language accessible to primary and secondary schools throughout Reading.
Created in 2015, the year-round outreach programme has reached 15,000 children, young people, and adults in the last 18 months alone, and has partnered with a wide variety of local organisations including the NHS, Activate Learning, Brighter Futures for Children, Reading Libraries, Reading Refugee Support Group, and Launchpad.
Reading Rep will deliver this project in partnership with Reading Borough Council, Reading Libraries, Reading College, Activate Learning, University of Reading and the NHS.