Cultural programme

We are delighted to reveal that we have been awarded a £85,000 grant from Historic England to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on the high street over the next three years. Reading HSHAZ is one of more than 60 high streets to receive a share of £6 million for their cultural programme. This is part of the four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

For more information about Historic England’s Cultural Programme visit their website.

Street view of Oxford Road shops
Oxford Road HSHAZ

Re-imagining the high street through your stories was based in Reading’s Oxford Road High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).  The project engaged Oxford Road communities, to explore people’s real stories of Oxford Road and to link them with their local heritage and rich multicultural history. To find out more watch this short film about the projects (credit to Peter Leach of ProVideo Productions Ltd).

Grants awarded

Following the successful HSHAZ pilot projects in 2021, we are delighted to announce the awarding of grants to Reside Dance, and visual artists Lisa Marie Gibbs and Philip Newcombe for their creative projects exploring and celebrating the heritage and diverse communities of the Oxford Road.

Reside Dance will work with local primary school pupils and their families using movement, creative games and artwork, ReConnect, an after-school arts programme, will offer families a different context to reconnect, heal fraught relationships through play and laughter, leave laptops and screens behind, and enjoy the present moment of being together.

Local visual artists Lisa-Marie Gibbs and Philip Newcombe will be running workshops with members of the Oxford Road community looking at how objects hold our own personal and collective stories. Using sound recording, sculpture, text and other forms of art making the workshops will allow participants to discover ‘hidden stories’ and as a collective bring these stories of the people and place of the Oxford Road to life.

These two exciting projects will be taking place between April and October 2022, and we will be sharing more information across our social media in the coming weeks. Follow us at:

Facebook: @HSHAZReading

Twitter: @hshaz_reading

Instagram: @hshaz_reading

HSHAZ Pilot Grant

In advance of the wider Cultural Programme, Historic England offered several Pilot Grants to initiate and test projects to engage communities. Reading was successful in achieving a grant of £9,231 to run a pilot project for the HSHAZ. This pilot project titled ‘Re-imagining the high street through your stories’ was based in Reading’s Oxford Road HSHAZ.

The aim of the project was to engage with the Oxford Road communities, to explore people’s real stories of Oxford Road and to link them with their local heritage and rich multicultural history.

Montage of images from Oxford Road in Reading, including the street sign, buildings and residents.

Oxford Road Stories

Last year the project worked with the University of Reading to collect residents’ stories and memories that would be used as the inspiration for 3 new art projects along the Oxford Road.

We are thrilled to bring you the new online community exhibition Oxford Road Stories hosted by Reading Museum, as the result of the wonderful research and contributions from the community.

Three local artists; Baker Street ProductionsGemma Anusa and Caroline Streatfield were commissioned to create new art pieces for the Oxford Road inspired by these Oxford Road Stories. These art pieces celebrate the history, heritage and vibrancy of culture of Reading’s Oxford Road.

Caroline Streatfield – Hidden Recipes from the Ancestral Home

Lots of food dishes from around the world

Launched Monday 24th May

In her new project ‘Hidden Recipes From My Ancestral Home’, local artist Caroline Streatfield encourages you to shop local and explore the vast array of food shops along Reading’s Oxford Road where you can purchase ingredients to cook fantastic dishes from around the world.

Through her project Caroline has produced a set of 17 recipe cards showcasing family recipes which can all be cooked using local ingredients from the Oxford Road, these recipe cards include stories and memories from the contributors as well as illustrations created by local school children and artists.

Find out more about the project and where you can collect a recipes card here.

Caroline at the launch of her project; with local Cllrs, local residents who contributed recipes and staff from the Turkish Halal Food Centre, Oxford Road
Caroline at the launch of her project; with local Cllrs, local residents who contributed recipes and staff from the Turkish Halal Food Centre, Oxford Road

Instagram: @carolinestreatfield


Baker Street Productions – Look Hear, Oxford Road

Launched Monday 5th July

Baker Street Productions bring you on a multi-sensory, three-dimensional tour of the Oxford Road, creating an engaging narrative through which you can explore the heritage of the buildings and people along the Oxford Road.

Discover intriguingly placed QR Codes around the Oxford Road HSHAZ to access 12 different audio bites.

Baker Street Productions explore the past, present and future of the Oxford Road as you hear stories from residents, historical accounts of the roads history and reflect on the rich experiences of life in a multi-cultural and diverse community.

More information about the project and how to access the audio bites.

Caroline Bishop of Baker Street Productions in a studio

Baker Street Productions was started by Caroline Bishop in Baker Street, Reading, during lockdown in the summer of 2020. It was born from concern about the lack of opportunities for new and emerging careers in the creative and entertainment industries.   


Instagram: @bakerstreetproductions 

Twitter: @BakerStreetPro1

Gemma Anusa – Through your eyes

Gemma Anusa, a local artist and Oxford Road resident, has created two paintings that have been digitalised and blown up to large scale aluminium prints and attached to railings along the Oxford Road by Battle Street car park. Gemma’s paintings feature two faces that she has depicted with a gradient skin tone from white to black to represent the multicultural community of the Oxford Road. In the multicoloured background Gemma has included quotes and words from the community. Gemma’s aim for the piece was to represent and celebrate the Oxford Road community and their history.

Instagram: @anusa.creatives

Facebook: @anusa.creatives

Artist Gemma Anusa standing next to her mural