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Reading & The Arts

Reading has a number of arts centres, including concert halls, fine art galleries and general use spaces, with a vibrant arts scene.

In 2006 the Reading Fringe Festival was launched, striving to prove that Reading was "a hotbed of talent" worthy of city status.[20] Local arts organisations, groups and individuals promote themselves at venues throughout the town in the run-up to Reading Festival.

Reading is home to Remix Reading, a free culture project with a particular focus on copyright and the local arts scene.

Reading is also the home to Gen Con UK, a Games Convention.



Every year Reading hosts the Reading Festival, which has been running since 1971. While WOMAD found a home in the town in 1990, it has been announced that after 17 years WOMAD Reading is to find a new location, having outgrown the Rivermead site. Internationally, it is perhaps for these two events that the town is best known.

The town has had mixed fortunes in creating home-grown artists over the years. Perhaps most notable is Mike Oldfield of Tubular Bells fame. More recently, Slowdive, The Cooper Temple Clause, Stuart Price, Three Litre, Morning Runner, My Luminaries, Laura Marling, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip, Pete & The Pirates, SixNationState, new prog band Pure Reason Revolution, nationally acclaimed heavy rock group Exit Ten, and indie-synth-pop artist Mr Fogg have had some degree of success. David Byron, first and most famous singer of heavy metal band Uriah Heep lived his last years in Reading before he died in 1985. Also, local Metal band SinTuition made an appearance at Download Festival 2006.

Reading plays host to semi-professional and amateur choirs and choral societies. Reading Festival Chorus has just celebrated its 60th anniversary. RFC sings a diverse music programme, with works like Mozart's Requiem, Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man in 2005 to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and a summer programme of English and American Folk songs by Tippett and Aaron Copland.

Reading also has orchestras including the long-established Reading Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and Reading Youth Orchestra (RYO). The Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra (APO), named after Richard Aldworth, the founder of Reading Blue Coat School (where it rehearses and plays most of its concerts), was formed relatively recently, in 2002. APO's remit is to be as innovative as possible, giving more local people the chance to play by rehearsing exclusively at weekends, attracting a wider audience to classical music (especially younger people) through its 'Concert Virgin Scheme' & education projects, and championing the music of talented young composers.



Reading has several theatre venues, including The Hexagon and 21 South Street, which are professional venues supported by Reading Borough Council. The Hexagon is a multi-purpose venue in the heart of Reading that provides a programme of events including rock, pop, comedy, classical music and dance as well as theatre. South Street also presents a diverse range of performing arts from both the professional and community sectors, including fringe theatre, comedy, music, dance and live literature.

Amateur theatre venues in Reading include Progress Theatre, a self-governing, self-funding theatre group and registered charity founded in 1947 that operates and maintains its own 97-seat theatre. Progress Theatre produces a yearly open air Shakespeare production in the Reading Abbey Ruins that has come to represent a highlight of Reading's cultural calendar. Reading also has Bohemian Night, a weekly Open Mike event that many ameuters perform at.

The Reading Evening Post is an evening newspaper published on Mondays to Fridays. The Reading Chronicle is published weekly, on Thursdays. Three local radio stations broadcast from Reading: BBC Radio Berkshire, Reading 107 FM and 2-Ten FM. Other local radio stations, such as London's 95.8 Capital FM, Basingstoke's 107.6 Kestrel FM and Slough's Star 106.6 can also be received.

Local television news programmes are the BBC's South Today and ITV's Thames Valley Tonight.

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