A project led by researchers at the University of Reading is taking art ‘off the wall’ and into the community, inspiring the citizens of Reading to discover, explore and engage with contemporary artists and their work.

Reading’s local arts economy has historically been limited by a lack of funding and infrastructure, leaving many local artists without access to appropriate studio and exhibition space and with few opportunities to develop their practice and progress their careers.

In challenging preconceptions about the exhibition of contemporary art, research by Professor Susanne Clausen at the University of Reading has inspired the development of a new network of non-traditional exhibition spaces, providing valuable opportunities for local artists to make connections with international artists, to make connections beyond Reading, enhance their practice and engage with more diverse audiences.

Based on Clausen’s previous research exploring the curation of art in unusual settings, the ‘Reading International’ project offered a platform for artists to create new artwork within the unique social and historical context of Reading. It featured a range of work by international artists and curators, including major solo exhibitions, group and thematic shows, performances, film screenings, workshops and talks, as well as offsite projects and temporary public artworks.

Together, these activities have reignited Reading’s art scene. By making art accessible in everyday life across the town, the research has changed how art is viewed in the local area and attracted audiences from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. It has also facilitated national and international collaborations by local artists and influenced policy around future funding and the development of infrastructure for contemporary art in Reading.


Find out more

Reading International website

Explore the art:

Creating Ruin – Lada Nakonechna (Ukraine) in residence at Reading Abbey Ruins

The Sound of Words – Turner Prize winner, Helen Cammock (UK) created billboard posters in Crown Street around the meaning of ‘community’

Oscar Wilde’s artistic legacy celebrated in Reading Museum exhibition (Press release, Oct 2017)

Empty Reading shop exhibition showcases a video installation by Patricia L. Boyd  (Press release, Feb 2019)

View the full impact case study on the REF 2021 website: Reading International: Using art projects to inspire local communities to engage with contemporary art