Reading High Street Heritage Action Zone artist brief

Artist brief: ‘Re-imagining the high streets through your stories’
Oxford Road, Reading
We are commissioning three artistic pieces on Oxford Road. We will be accepting proposals for:

  1. Street artwork where artists could collaborate with shopkeepers, businesses and the local community to bring stories of the Oxford Road to life in the form of art installations along the street.
  2. Storytelling promenade performances and/or digital iterations derived from stories of the Oxford Road’s history and community.
  3. A series of unique designs to support Covid public safety in the public realm, which are inspired by the rich history and heritage of Reading’s Oxford Road and its local community.

The Proposal

To work with the community engagement team, led by the University of Reading to use stories from the community along with local heritage and the rich multicultural history of Oxford Road in artwork on the public realm.

  • Designs should reflect the community and their history along the Oxford Road
  • Artwork should inspire a sense of place and community spirit by animating the space and involving the local community in that animation.
  • Proposal concepts will be presented to community focus groups for comment and feedback prior to production/installation
  • Proposals should include CPD (Continuing Professional Development) elements for local artists
  • Proposals should outline how the community will be involved throughout the process.


The pilot grant activities will focus on the eastern end of Oxford Road – from Howard Street to Russell Street to link with the town centre across the IDR.

Map of Castle Hill/Russell Street/Oxford Road Conservation Area


  • The submissions will close on Monday 18th January, the successful applicant(s) will be informed by the Monday 25th of January.
  • Engagement with the community including presentations of proposals to community groups: 25th January – 15th February
  • Implementation on site: 15th February – 1st March
  • Evaluation with the community: March 2021
  • Support pilot evaluation report for end of the programme: March 2021

The Contract

The total budgets for each artistic intervention are as follows:

  1. Street artwork: £1,800
  2. Performance based work: £1,800
  3. Artistic Covid public safety messages: £1,800

These budgets can be applied for in their entirety or applicants can apply for a proportion of a budget which could be shared between multiple successful applicants. We also welcome groups and collectives making combined applications for the total budget of £5,400 to work on each intervention as a single commission.

The amount applied for must cover the artist(s) fee, planning, production and all materials, installation, insurance and ongoing maintenance.

The Artist

Essential criteria:

  • Experience of implementing successful public art within the community
  • Experience of responding to a site specific brief
  • Experience of working with a diverse range of people and communities
  • Knowledge of the Oxford Road’s history and diverse communities (please note we are ideally looking for an artist who is from the Oxford Road Area)
  • Flexibility, enthusiasm and friendliness to engage the local communities
  • Ability to work to short timescales and within agreed budget

The proposal should respect the Council’s regulation and policies and all materials, paints etc used should satisfy the climate emergency declaration and the Council’s pledge to achieve a carbon neutral Reading by 2030.

Artists working with children, young people or vulnerable adults must hold a current DBS certificate.

Application Process

There are two ways to apply: Send us a written application or you can send us a short video or audio recording (no longer than 4 mins) to

Please tell us in no more than two sides of A4 (or in your 4 minute recording):

  • Your name, contact details and proposed name of your idea
  • Clear outline of your idea
  • Provide details on your previous related experiences
  • Outline who you are and how you are connected to the Oxford Road
  • The budget you are applying for with a breakdown of all your intended costs

If you would like help or if you have questions about any of the above, please email us:

Applications will be marked against the following criteria:

  • Quality: The proposal is clear and fits in with the above brief
  • Experience: How much experience the artist has had in previous projects
  • Audience Reach and Engagement: a clear understanding of who it is you are reaching but also how embedded the artist is in their community on the Oxford Road

Deadline for submission: Midnight January Monday 18th 2021

Heritage Action Zone Project

High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) is a government-sponsored programme to transform high streets through the power of heritage. HSHAZ scheme seeks to deliver physical improvements and cultural and community activities to regenerate historic high streets or town centers.

Reading has identified the retail part of three conservation areas; Castle Hill/Russell Street/Oxford Road, St Mary’s Butts/Castle Street, and Market Place/London Street. The aim is to make these high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant – as places for people to live, work and spend time.

The impact of the coronavirus is far reaching, and it has already had a major impact on high street occupiers including retailers, cafes and other local businesses. In this challenging period organisations must significantly change the way they deliver their work and services.

In advance of the wider Cultural Programme Grant scheme starting in 2021, Historic England offered several Pilot Grants to Cultural Consortia within the High Street HAZ group to initiate and test projects to engage communities from September 2020 into early 2021. This series of commissions will be part of this pilot programme, which will aim to inspire the larger funding application.

More information of the HSHAZ Programme.

Last updated on 21/12/2020