Reading High Street Heritage Action Zone announces artist commission brief for two new public artworks.

Reading High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) announces new Artist Commission brief to create two new pieces of outdoor public artwork for Reading’s High Street Heritage Action Zone in St Mary’s Butts and Market Place conservation areas.

The two site-specific pieces of temporary outdoor public art will respond to the heritage of Reading and each of the two areas. Artists will work closely with the local community to develop the artwork.

  • Artists are invited to send a proposal / expression of interest for one or both sites no later than 31st July 2023.
  • Shortlisted artists will then be invited to submit a full proposal no later than 1st October 2023.
  • Artists must complete and install the works by February 2024.
  • Up to £8,000 is available for each area.
  • Artists will work closely with the local community to develop the artwork.
  • Artists will work closely with the HSHAZ team to deliver and publicise the completed artwork.
  • Artwork must be designed to last for two years.
  • Artwork is required to get relevant planning consents from Reading Borough Council and proposed designs, materials etc. Must be to the satisfaction of the council.

High Street Heritage Action Zone context

Reading High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) funded by HM Government Historic England, Reading Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, and combines three complementary strands:

  • conservation and repair work carried out to buildings and improvements to the public realm;
  • building, nurturing and sustaining relationships with local communities and giving them a key role in deciding what they want to see happening on their high street;
  • creating opportunities with local artists and cultural practitioners for activities which celebrate the history of the high street, document people’s live histories, and explore the importance of the high street to local communities over the generations.

Design Brief Detail

Market Place area site: Corn Exchange/ Clock Tower building – RG12DE

The artwork will occupy a prominent place at the heart of the Market Place area, on the doorway of the Clock Tower building. This property is Grade II listed and within the Market Place Conservation Area. For further information on the listing and history of the area, please see below links to the Historic England listing and Conservation Area Appraisal: Corn Exchange Arcade Entrance, Non Civil Parish – 1113539 Historic England Market-Place-London-St- Original-CAA.pdf (

It is intended that the artwork be affixed to the metal grille at this site. The artwork must not touch the fabric of the building itself given its Grade Il listing and should be limited to the metal grille only. A careful approach must be taken on the proposed artwork to this site given its heritage sensitivities and any installation must ensure that it enhances and preserves the appearance and significance of this property.

Image showing grille above entrance at Corn Exchange

St Mary’s Butts area site: SSE Sub Station – RG1 2LS

The artwork will occupy a prominent place opposite St Mary’s Church, at the SSE Sub Station. It is intended that the artwork go onto the easterly facing recessed brick work walls at this site. This site is just outside of the St Mary’s Butts and Castle Street Conservation Area and therefore due regard for how any artwork relates to the historical and architectural significance of this designated space must be taken into account. For more information on the conservation area, please take a look at Reading Borough Council’s Conservation Area Appraisal: St-Mary-Castle- Street.pdf (

Image showing easterly facing façade at the SSE substation with 3x recessed panels

The artist will need to be aware of the Minster Quarter Plan an ensure their proposal artworks complement the overall Minster Quarter Development Plan.

Commission Process and Schedule

This three-stage commission process is for the design and installation of outdoor public art in two HSHAZ designated areas – as above, one just outside of St Mary’s Butts Conservation Area and one within the Market Place Conservation Area. It is strongly advised that you visit both sites to familiarise yourself with the properties, their surrounding area, and the heritage and historical significance of the HSHAZ areas to help inform any proposed designs.

We are inviting artists to submit an expression of interest in one or both areas.

Stage 1 – Expression of Interest – Deadline Monday 31st July 2023

Artists should be able to clearly demonstrate previous experience of working to commissions of a similar scale and nature, their experience of working with communities, supporting their Expression of Interest with visual examples of relevant work, CV and a vision statement.

Up to four artists will be shortlisted to proceed to Stage 2, to take part in a public consultation event in September. They will then submit fully developed design proposals with technical specifications and a budget outlining production schedule, materials, installation and other expenses. The proposals will be presented to a panel in early October.

Stage 2 – Developed Proposal – Deadline Sunday 1st October 2023

A fee of £500 will be paid to each shortlisted artist for their attendance at a September event where they will work with members of the public from the community and their resulting proposal. Proposals that respond to the particularities, history and heritage of the area are essential. Artists should outline how they will engage and work with the local community to develop their artwork.

Shortlisted proposals will be considered by a panel including from the HSHAZ Cultural Consortium, Reading BID and community members. Shortlisted artists will present their design to the panel on 4th or 5th October.

Stage 3 – Planning Application Submission – October 2023 – January 2024

It is likely that full planning consent will be required at both sites. Support will be given with this process, but we will require the selected artist to produce scaled drawings, including existing / proposed contextual elevations (1:100) showing the artwork in the context of the building and wider area. We will also require a method statement and some justification text on how the artwork enhances the appearance of the properties and relates to the wider street scene/Conservation Areas/history of the locality, in support of the planning application(s).

Changes to the proposed design and materials may be required if the Council are not satisfied that the work will complement the appearance of the host property or surrounding area.

In addition, the Clock Tower/Corn Exchange property is Grade II listed and therefore careful consideration is required in terms of how the proposed artwork does not harm the significance of the heritage asset. Any artwork must enhance the appearance, respect the character of, avoid detracting from, and ensure no ham is caused to this building. Large scale drawings will also be required (1:20) to show detail on how the artwork will be affixed to the grille and will not harm or alter the fabric of the clock tower.

RBC will be able to cover the costs of the applications and deal with the administration however as detailed above the drawings and additional supporting information will need to be provided by the artist.

Commission Contract

Only one work will be commissioned for each of the two areas, St Mary’s Butts and Market Place.

The contract for these needs to be in place by the end of October 2023, and artists must complete and install the works by February 2024.

Artists will work closely with the HSHAZ team to deliver and publicise the completed artwork.

Planning consent will be obtained between October 2024 – January 2024 and therefore scaled drawings and supporting information will need to be provided in October 2023.

Commission Budget

Up to £8,000 is available for each area. This is inclusive of:

Artist’s fee and production costs including materials

Artist attendance at sessions to work with the local community to develop the artwork

Artist’s travel costs and related expenses for site visits and installation

Transport of completed work to site

Installation costs including artist holding relevant PLI and other relevant insurances


Maintenance, durability, deinstall, copyright and ownership

The artwork should be designed and installed to last in good condition for at least two years. The artist will be responsible for the maintenance of the artwork once the contract is signed off and we are satisfied that all works have been completed successfully.

The artist will also be responsible for the installation of the artwork and must provide Public Liability Insurance whilst the artwork is being installed. Reading Borough Council will take responsibility for the deinstallation once it is ready to be removed.

The artist will provide detailed advice and guidance on the long-term maintenance and any specialist cleaning of the artwork required and will be available to answer questions when appropriate on maintenance issues. The artist will also be expected to provide a detailed risk assessment relating to the installation and viability of the artwork.

Reading Borough Council will notify the artist in writing when they wish to deinstall the artwork.

The artist must ensure that protective techniques are incorporated (e.g. fire resistant), and materials must be resistant to vandalism or graffiti (for example, anti-graffiti paint).

Reading Borough Council shall own the work in its entirety including Intellectual Property rights and the physical materials. Moral Rights (Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988) remain vested in the artist.

How to make a Stage 1 Expression of interest Deadline: Monday 31stJuly 2023

Artists are required to submit an expression of interest by email to Anna Jones, Cultural Activities Facilitator, HSHAZ

This must include:

  • How you meet the Essential Requirements as below in maximum 2 sides of A4
  • Visual examples, or links to visual examples of your work (6-12 good quality images) that are relevant to the commission including, importantly, examples of previously commissioned works of a similar scale
  • CV (website or document)
  • Vision statement for area and site, suggesting initial ideas, proposed approach and materials to be used

Artists are invited to submit an expression of interest in one or both areas, please state Market Place and/or St Mary’s Butts.

Essential Requirements

  • Proven experience of design and conceptual realisation of outdoor public art commissions of a similar nature
  • Understanding of technical requirements in the creation, installation and maintenance of the work
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work with different partners and communities
  • Ability and willingness to support and respond to marketing and communications requests
  • Confirmation that you are able to attend a half day in-person event at the Riverside Museum during national Heritage Open Days (8th – 17th September) to deliver consultation activity with the public and community groups to inform your design proposal
  • Confirmation that you can meet the schedule and deadlines if your application is shortlisted.
    • Submit developed proposal – 1st October
    • Attend a half day session during Heritage Open Days
    • Present to panel 4th or 5th
    • October Provide scale drawings and method statement for planning permission end October
    • Complete & install Feb 2024
  • Confirmation that you hold Public Liability Insurance of 10 million+

To arrange an informal conversation before making an expression of interest, please contact: Anna Jones, Cultural Activities Facilitator, HSHAZ

Last updated on 20/07/2023