CULTURE and heritage in Reading received a £550k funding boost today.

A partnership between Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England has agreed to give the town hundreds of thousands of pounds to launch a new cultural festival.

The Reading-on-Thames Festival will celebrate the town's heritage and culture in the wake of Reading's Year of Culture.

Paul Gittings, lead member for culture on the borough council, said: "I’m delighted that the town is gaining in reputation as a location of cultural excellence.

"We are determined to build on the momentum of Reading’s Year of Culture with new programmes of exceptional quality, to create a permanent legacy.

"These are exciting times for Reading with much to look forward to."

Reading University will help support the development of locally commissioned art and culture, contributing to the festival.

The funding will enable Reading-on-Thames Festival to run from 2018 but UKCIC are hoping to host a taster festival this year.

Hedley Swain, south east area director of Arts Council England, said: "Reading is at a really exciting point in its cultural development, with projects like the Year of Culture and the amazing 'Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison' creating a real hunger for great art and culture.

"Funding from the Great Place Scheme will help all of Reading to take the next step."

The Great Places Scheme offered 16 areas across the country a slice of a £20m pot. The Reading-on-Thames scheme was awarded £558,471.

Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: "Building on the momentum of Reading’s 2016 Year of Culture this National Lottery investment will support a high quality programme of arts, culture and heritage in the town, helping to build an even stronger future for its people and economy with culture at its heart."

The money will help fund the formation of a new delivery board to oversea culture on a strategic level working with the Cultural Education Partnership, Reading International and Junction Dance.

It will also see the creation of a community cultural outreach programme, the new festival, and develop business engagement.