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In 2016 Reading welcomed its year of culture, designed to showcase the wonderful range of arts, culture and heritage events and organisations in Reading. Each month had a unique theme and events included the HM Prison Reading opening for the first time to the public with artists, writers and performers responding to its most notorious inmate, Oscar Wilde.

The year of culture was one of the buzz conversations at our RSA Engage event in May last year.  We often don't know the impact of Fellow conversations at our events, but this time we could be directly involved from the outcome of one such conversation!  The event got Fellows’ Matt Foster and Suzanne Stallard chatting about creative networking in the town which led to them setting up ROAM (creative networking for Reading), their first event supported by the RSA took place at the end of November and was a reflection of the year of culture and how the town could build on the momentum from the year.

 

During the evening we heard from Zsuzsi Lindsay about the impact the year had had on the town with over 1,000 events taking place and over £300,000 investment generated, concentrating on the identity that the arts can create for the town.   Some of the discussions and learnings link closely to the RSA’s work on heritage and in particular the 5 principles of networked heritage, where we discuss heritage shaping how people identify with the places they live, work and play. 

The first meeting for 2017 ROAM2 is focused on building on the success of the year of culture and takes place on Tuesday 7 March at Artigiano, Reading, see booking information here

Guest speakers for this event:
- Susanne Clausen, Head of Art at The University of Reading, will introduce Reading International and discuss ways in which people and organisations can get involved. 
- Councillor Sarah Hacker, who will be discussing Reading's Cultural Education Partnership

If you would like some more information on the first meeting, notes and documents from the November event can be viewed here.  Contact Matt Foster through the ROAM Facebook group.

There is also an interesting project relating to Reading Abbey where heritage researchers at the University of Reading are seeking local partners for a project on the historical and contemporary resonances of Windsor Forest. Windsor Forest was a royal hunting ground that stretched during the medieval era from Twyford in the west to Egham in the east, with the current Windsor Great Park at its heart. The University of Reading group is planning a public-facing web resource built around an interactive map, a new student edition of Alexander Pope’s poem Windsor Forest (1713), a touring exhibition, and a suite of institutional collaborations and public events to accompany them. Resource will be sought from public arts and humanities funding bodies during 2017.  We would be very glad indeed to hear from FRSAs in the Reading, Bracknell, Slough, Maidenhead and Windsor areas representing groups, organizations or institutions that might involve themselves with this project. Please contact Paddy Bullard FRSA: p.s.bullard@reading.ac.uk

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