AN ENORMOUS fundraising campaign means Reading will get a new theatre in 2021 thanks to Reading Rep Theatre.

The theatre company has now raised more than £500,000 for the company’s first permanent home in Reading, meaning the new cultural arts hub in Kings Road will open next year.

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The new space will house the multi-award-winning Reading Rep Theatre, led by founder and artistic director Paul Stacey and executive director Nick Thompson, and provide the facilities for the company to continue producing work as Reading’s only year-round professional producing theatre, as well as delivering outreach opportunities to those with least access to the arts.

As well as a 168-seat theatre there will be a permanent education and learning centre, backstage areas, new front of house facilities, and a café/bar.

Paul Stacey said: “We are grateful to so many organisations and people who have helped us raise these funds and you will be able to find out more about them in further announcements.

“We simply can't wait to open the doors of our new venue for the first time and give the communities we serve the opportunity to experience live theatre again.

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“The Covid-19 pandemic has been monumentally challenging for the arts, but as we emerge from isolation, Reading Rep's mission to strengthen the local community will be more urgent than ever.

"Theatre brings people together in a shared space to tell a collective narrative: these stories will be essential as our community comes together again and I can't wait to share them with our audiences.”

Reading Rep Theatre has raised the finance from a variety of trusts, foundations, businesses and individuals as well as Arts Council England (ACE).

Hedley Swain, ACE area director of the South East said: “This is an exciting time for culture in Reading and Arts Council England is really pleased to be able to support this initiative, which will provide a much needed venue for some of the town’s excellent theatrical work”.

Councillor Karen Rowland, Reading Borough Council’s lead for culture, added: "Reading Rep has clearly shown itself to be a top quality leader in Reading’s theatrical landscape; and a group that is always ensuring theatre is accessible to all.

"Their rapid re-invention and creativity with on-line workshops and performance during the current Covid-19 crisis is typical of their “can do” attitude.

“Their quick rise in recent years to a major player in Reading’s ever-expanding theatrical scene is commendable and I urge others to continue to “watch this space!” for more from Reading Rep."

There are still ways to support the fundraising campaign by donating, buying a brick or sponsoring a seat at the new venue.

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