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Theatre plans revealed to transform Reading's cultural landscape

  • Watch Mel Bloor's report below

Plans have been revealed for a new theatre in Reading.

The group Reading Rep wants to convert a former Salvation Army building along the Kings Road into a brand new 158 seat auditorium.

What the new theatre could look like

Reading Rep produced its first show in 2012 with a budget of just 15 hundred pounds.

Seven years later and it's earned itself a reputation as one of the Thames Valley's most exciting and innovative theatre companies.

It currently operates out of a 50 seat studio space at Reading College but increasing audience numbers means it needs a bigger, permanent home.

Every town needs to have a cultural hub or it needs to have a cultural offering that allows the arts to flourish because if the arts are flourishing it normally means that other aspects of the town are as well."

– Paul Stacey, Artistic Director, Reading Rep

As well as a new theatre, the building will also house a new community and learning space for Reading Rep's outreach programme which encourages young people with special educational needs to get involved with the arts.

This latest bid to open a new theatre in Reading comes as the campaign to transform the former Reading Prison site steps up a gear.

Member of the town's arts and heritage forum are planning to launch a petition calling for the building to become an arts hub.

Reading Prison was closed in 2013 and has remained empty ever since

The ministry of justice recently revealed it would be sold to the highest bidder prompting fears it would be snapped up by a property developer.

The prison was closed in 2013 and has remained empty ever since.

In 2016, it was used to host an exhibition centred around one of it's famous inmates - Oscar Wilde - which more than 50,000 people attended.

Former X factor contestant and Reading star-maker pupil Danyl Johnson is gives his support

Former X factor contestant and Reading star-maker pupil Danyl Johnson is giving his support to both the prison plan and Reading Rep's new theatre.

If all goes to plan, Reading Rep's new theatre could be open by summer 2020, while the fight for Reading Prison continues.