Find out about arts and cultural organisation with activities for young people and how to get involved with Arts Awards in Reading.


Information and opportunities for young people, schools and organisations


Artists and arts organisations who offer opportunities for young people

The Reading CAN networking programme was supported by Artwork and facilitated by Readipop and Jelly from 2013-2015.

Reading needs a meaningful forum for local professional community arts organisations and practitioners to engage with each other and Reading council, local schools, youth organisations and other CYP agencies to ensure scarce funds are used effectively, opportunities are not missed and that local providers are visible to local commissioners. Reading’s arts and cultural sector has remained resilient in recent years with few changes in leadership despite the many changes in local government and arts funding.

Reading CAN is an open network for all who wish to get involved for the benefit of children and young people.

Network outcomes:

  • An improvement in Reading’s cultural offer to children and young people, particularly for ‘hard to reach’ young people and areas of low opportunity.
  • Reading based culture and arts organisations to work together to initiate and access funding for children and young people’s cultural provision.
  • Create and support new partnerships to develop new work focusing on a cultural offer for children and young people in Reading.
  • Work with key Reading schools to embed Artsmark and work with partners to support Arts Award opportunities.
  • Support and embed young people’s voice in the development of the Reading cultural offer.
  • Enhance and extend existing partnerships.
  • Develop networking sustainability 


Notes from the Cultural Life event January 2015

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On January 10th 2015 Readipop organised an event that brought together over 50 artists and organisations from Reading to discuss the future of Reading's cultural life in response to the…

Cultural Life event – January 10th 2015

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Cultural life - The state of the arts in Reading? An event to talk about the future of the arts and culture in Reading. In recent months, Reading Borough Council…

What’s next? – event notes and actions

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A group came together on November 10th to come up with plans for Reading CAN. Here are the notes from the discussion sessions about the priorities for Reading CAN. The…

November 10th: Reading CAN – What Next?

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Reading CAN - What Next? A Reading Culture and Arts Networking event coordinated by Readipop and Jelly and supported by Artswork. Please join us to review the networking programme progress…

Notes and Resources from Reading CAN network meeting and events

 Phase/year 1 evaluation. September 2012 – end October 2013The development of Reading CAN has been a positive process with tangible outcomes and broad agreement. Year 1 activity.Alongside regular Readipop/Jelly strategic planning meetings, informal networking discussions and participating in other local forums, the phase 1 programme included 5 networking events hosted by ReadingCAN.

  • Reading CAN launch networking event. April 2013. 32 local artists/arts organisations engaged in this process. See ‘notes from Reading CAN’ below.
  • Open Space networking event. May 2013. A smaller and more focused networking event. See notes below.
  • Arts Awards in the Real World. September 2013. A surgery/workshop/discussion session with Helen Le Brocq (OYAP).
  • Arts Award Discover & Explore in-house training. October 2013. Delivered by John Riches. This trained 12 new Arts Award advisors.
  • Meet The Teachers. October 2013. A networking/discussion session exploring partnerships with schools. See notes below.

Local support has been positive but we met a couple of barriers early on in the process, which led to a need to reflect on priorities and consult further with Reading Borough Council.

  1. No legacy to build on.

We had hoped to extract legacy information from recent council supported programmes including Creative Partnerships projects but there was no means to access this information as key staff members have departed and council departments closed. Schools’ links to artists were facilitated by ‘creative partners’ who are no longer working locally and the relationships have ended and moved on to new things. Council web resources and communication channels have also ceased to operate so any new resource needed to created from the ground up.We held a Reading CAN steering group meeting with Kayleigh Hodges from Reading Borough Council and determined the need for a web-based resource/portal/directory/database to be a focus for the creative offer for children and young people in Reading. Reading CAN is seeking funding from RBC to support the development of an online directory and the creation of as the access point for the local arts and culture offer for young people.

  1. High expectations from partners.

The successful launch event in April 2013 and subsequent Open Space networking event alongside individual discussions with local partners quickly demonstrated a perception of Reading CAN as a ‘development organisation’ where network participants had expectations that the network leaders (ie Readipop and Jelly) would work on projects on behalf of the members rather than producing network based solutions themselves.The initial ‘priorities’ and ‘snapshot’ mapping exercises at the network launch and open space networking events demonstrated both the need for networking and the potential scale of the support required locally.Our response was to clarify the purpose of Reading CAN by adjusting the programme name to ‘Culture and Arts Networking’. Our purpose is now better understood as facilitating networking activity to support and develop local cultural offer to CYP.Phase 2 will see the Readipop/Jelly leadership expand to encompass a wider steering group and incorporate a voice for young people via Jelly’s shadow group and Readipop’s DISTORTION team.The Reading CAN steering group will take the lead on key strategic consortia bids whilst other projects and programmes may be taken on by individual partners or ad-hoc consortia prompted via networking activity. Lead partners’ feedback.Readipop feedback:Bridge funding has helped support and legitimize the ad-hoc professional development support, advice, information and guidance that we were already offering local emerging artists and arts organisations by providing a context and purpose for the support. The structure of regular meetings with Jelly and further discussion with Reading Council has resulted in a well-planned bid to the council’s Cultural Partnership fund for a discrete project to support and extend the work of Reading CAN programme. The potential of accessing matched funding via Artswork helps to strengthen the bid and demonstrate the strategic context for Reading CAN and the support available to the programme. Jelly feedback:Participation in Reading CAN had a positive impact for us, giving us the opportunity to meet with peers in the arts and education, focusing ideas and planning our way forward as an organisation. The process supported us in applying for a \\\’shadow jelly\\\’ grant, which had been an idea under development for some time. Accessing Arts Award support and training with Reading CAN enabled us to create a framework to extend the opportunities for the young people we engage to work with established artists and arts organisations and encourage development of their skills.  Using Jelly as a base for training and meetings has encouraged new conversations and opportunities for working with new artists and other organisations.Gavin LombosCreative Director, Readipop18 November 2013.

Notes from Reading CAN, Thursday 18 AprilThese are typed up versions of the post-it notes in response to the questions we asked. Some replicate but it is a complete record from the day. What do you think the priorities should be for Reading CAN?

  • Bring groups together
  • Artist network, advocacy, funding advice, exhibition places, publicise the work of artists
  • Simple coordination, understanding of artists needs, umbrella organisation for visual arts/ music/ performance/education etc
  • Inclusion, working together, supporting each other
  • Deliver meaningful arts experiences that address real issues i.e. gender identity/ sexuality/ domestic violence in teen relationships/ issues surrounding immigration status/ refugee status
  • Communication about projects going on and projects needing partners
  • Discuss with youth council
  • Coordination so we can minimise the number of meetings but still stay in touch and keep up with what is going on
  • Broaden access to arts and culture, making it easier for young people
  • Spaces/ commissioning work/ funding/ strategy delivered based on need
  • Workshops/ projects (like Caversham festival)/ get involved with mental health schemes, learning disability schools/ youth projects
  • Organise projects, establish contacts
  • Shared resources, shared practice, shared good practice, share new and upcoming information, joint funding
  • Growth of awareness
  • Networking, projects and workshops, encouraging each other, promo of art and artists, arts culture
  • Large scale cross Reading youth event/ showcase (communal)
  • Growing membership to facilitate an increased voice for arts and arts groups in Reading, raise CAN profile asap and as well as attracting joiners, target potential joiners via other networks relevant community groups/ RVA directory
  • Improved connections and collective strategy
  • Space to exhibit, organisation skills, resources and skills sharing
  • How to utilise spaces when unused and insurance implications i.e. progress theatre is ‘dark’ during weekdays

What support do you need with arts award and arts mark?

  • Knowing more about it, how can we be involved
  • Funding for administrator to keep everything flowing, arts dev and advice
  • Funding to run the courses
  • More clarity on what is involved, who benefits and how
  • Co-ordination time – finding young people who want to work with us, supporting admin
  • Training and info and the places in which to put into practice
  • Greater publicity of the arts award and arts mark awards
  • What opportunities there are for established charities
  • Publicity, practical organisation help for events
  • Funding to pay artists to deliver the arts awards sessions
  • Funding to pay for admin time for organising it
  • Training updates for those who have done training some time ago
  • Funding for training tutors
  • Arts award training available 1 May Didcot, book through What are the best methods of communication?

  • Newsletters, alerts about information
  • Facebook (an online forum), twitter or email
  • LinkedIn group
  • Blackberry and facebook for YP\\\’s
  • A shared social media / web space for members of CAN to share info etc
  • Facebook, email, these workshops
  • One point of contact where info feeds in and out not facebook please, from one agency but disseminate to all others – radio, blog, facebook, Google circles, twitter, hang on etc
  • Email easiest but not dynamic, facebook groups are good, yammer?
  • Facebook/ twitter/ easy to use website
  • Central blog/ website and email – keep t simple – it is really difficult if there are too many blogs, websites, facebook pages etc eventually one just gives up and bins the lot
  • Email/ facebook, anything on line – easy to access at anytime
  • Twitter, facebook, email
  • Email
  • Email, mobile phone
  • Dance
  • Facebook, email, twitter and a directory with contact details and organisations
  • Emails and forums (online and face to face)
  • Website, facebook and email newsletter (not too often as otherwise ignored)

Support from Reading Borough Council- how do we manage expectations/ what or how should we be influenced by council strategy?

  • We need a strategy aligned to the council so it is easier to implement and fund
  • Joined up thinking, central calendar and diary of arts events that all organisations can access and can use to post events. This will enable better long term planning and avoid clashes and better for audience development. Commitment to all levels of proficiency and experiences progression is possible
  • Centralised point of contact, central info point, coordination of arts and culture calendar – one stop shop
  • Is this a rhetorical question? The strategy needs more leadership I think
  • Influence and lobby local politicians emphasising with evidence based benefits of the arts
  • As an artist I want to make the work that I want to make, I worry that by approaching the council for (funding) support that there will be limitations set on my practice
  • We shouldn’t be influenced by it, it should be the other way round i.e. responding to need
  • ^^ Agree ^^
  • Council should work together to devise a win win strategy for everyone
  • Encourage the council to have a strategy and work together to develop it
  • Need to be aware of council priorities but agree we should develop based evidence needs
  • It would be lovely to have a go-to team that would help facilitate arts event planning for e.g., help when looking for permissions for street art
  • Everyone to contribute to cultural strategy (arts would be part of this) and cultural partnership to steer funding through community grants
  • Facilitate a network (CAN) in skills sharing or performance sharing

What support do you need to access schools?

  • Knowing what schools want from us
  • Contracts, funding for projects
  • Dealing with individual schools can result in going round in circles. There exist art networks within school partners, having presence at these events would make sense and create an easier way for busy teachers to contact the right person and vice versa
  • An easily updated portal of online informant about arts and cultural service providers for schools to access to find suitable delivery partners
  • Rdgbizartsclub does not have any contact with schools at the moment so all help is good
  • A willingness for them to work beyond the curriculum and encourage outside the classroom activity
  • Basic curriculum training
  • Better promotion to schools, more time to meet teachers
  • Database of contacts
  • Mailing lists to a) find out what productions would be of relevance – helps us schedule our season b) best timings for these shows and how to encourage school groups c) what else we could offer them {progress theatre]
  • Contacts, the right person to speak to, info of what opportunities artist could work on and help with
  • A schools liaison officer for the arts
  • Contacts, guidance with paperwork and policies (Hanna Dix, RBC is brilliant at this) meeting like today to network and highlight skills, opps and needs. Agency for individuals to CRB check

Should we develop and arts strategy?

  • Yes
  • Yes, let’s write one
  • Yes
  • Yes, this territory should not be “owned by the council’
  • Why not
  • Err… yeah
  • Yes
  • Sisters and brothers are doing it for themselves
  • Using previous research, audits, art strategies a new strategy short term/ long term can be written
  • Keep it simple, inclusive, advice, funding opps, an organising calendar of events and funding deadlines
  • Definitely need some shared priorities and documents to show others

Notes from Reading CAN ‘Meet The Teachers’, Friday November 1st 2013 at Jelly A panel discussion event chaired by Readipop.Speakers:

  • Lucy Lombos – teacher, Thameside Primary school, Reading.
  • Sarah Bentley – teacher Ranikhet primary school, Reading. Governor at Woodcote Primary, Oxfordshire.
  • Richard Bentley – course leader music and media technology, Reading College.
  • Karen North – deputy head teacher. Dedworth middle school, Windsor.

Notes from open discussions and questions from the ‘audience’.Do you get to choose who you work with? How do you choose which artists you work with?

  • Free stuff.
  • Personal contacts
  • Look for relevant examples of practice/effectiveness
  • Testimonlals from local schools
  • Enrichment

How do you find out about new opportunities for your school and students?

  • Not often planned.
  • Personal recommendation
  • Free offers

Are there any \\\’trusted\\\’ routes you have for finding artists?

  • Recommendation from other schools and known organisations.
  • Personal contacts in local community
  • Teachers want to know about successful approaches in other schools.

Do you have any budget for art/creative activities?

  • Subject budgets are small and committed a long time in advance. Eg 6 months or more before the academic year.
  • Pupil premium. £1000 per pupil. Often used for direct ‘intervention’ to improve numeracy/literacy.
  • School financial years run April – March. Academic years run September – August. Financial decision are taken in the March before the start of the academic year.
  • Census day in October calculates the budget for the school for the next financial year.
  • Eg Census in October 2013 determines budget for April 2014 for academic year in September 2014/15.
  • SENCO may have access to budgets

Best times to talk to schools?

  • Schools would value a chance to meet artists in an ‘arts fair’ style setting with a ‘catalogue’ of delegates.
  • In order for teachers to attend an event within the school day there would need to be a clear professional development or training element to justify the costs of cover.
  • The best time of year for a fair/networking event is Jan/Feb as this will influence planning in time for setting school budgets in March for activity in the following school year.

How to communicate with schools.

  • “Phone. Not pigeon hole.”
  • go through the school secretary
  • get the name of the subject coord

Reading CAN Phase 2.


  • Develop young peoples’ voice, influence and leadership in cultural planning

– via shadow jelly and Readipop distortion project. Youth consultation on cultural strategy.

  • Identify the Network’s capacity building needs and facilitate solutions

– What next event outputs, capacity and strategic leadership issues

  • Enable local education and cultural practitioners to strengthen joint working within the CYP sector.

– difficulties accessing teachers and schools.

  • Facilitate and build knowledge exchange

– exchange is beginning via network events eg Made In Reading, 2016 planning etc

  • Support collaborative working and fundraising

– beginning

  • Formalise a steering group for the Network

– achieved and growing. Models for sustainability is developing.

It will realise the following programme outputs:

Partner and Steering group meetings to take place every 6-8 weeks – done

5 Networking events during 2014/2015

  • Teachers and Artists can
  • Reflections 2014 – AA D&E training
  • Schools music conference (AA session)
  • What next?
  • Cultural Life
  • Reflections 2015 – Arts in Reading
  • AA D&E training TBC – participants have been identified.

2 additional events funded by Reading Borough Council including:

  • Teachers CPD and Arts Fair -Artists and Teachers Can, Reflections 2014, Reflections 2015
  • 27 March – Reading CAN, Teachers D&E Arts Awards adviser training, Arts Awards surgery, Artsmark briefing, Arts Fair, Reading Arts Strategy consultation

The targets for this investment are:

  • At least 5 youth-focused arts network meetings to take place in 2014
  • 15 children & young people will participate in the Network
  • 10 Network members will undertake Arts Award adviser training [6 x Discover & Explore, 2 
x Bronze & Silver and 2 x Gold]
  • 10 children & young people will achieve Explore Arts Award


The targets for this investment were:
• At least 5 youth-focused arts network meetings to take place in 2014
• 15 children & young people will participate in the Network
• 10 Network members will undertake Arts Award adviser training [6 x Discover & Explore, 2 
x Bronze & Silver and 2 x Gold] • 10 children & young people will achieve Explore Arts Award. – This has been exceeded through the PIF programme.
Partner and Steering group meetings to take place every 6-8 weeks – done
Achieved 5 Networking events during 2014/2015
• Teachers and Artists can
• Reflections 2014 – AA D&E training
• Schools music conference (AA session)
• What next?
• Cultural Life
• Reflections 2015 – Arts in Reading
2 additional events funded by Reading Borough Council including:
• Teachers CPD and Arts Fair -Artists and Teachers Can, Reflections 2014, Reflections 2015
• 27 March – Reading CAN, Teachers D&E Arts Awards adviser training, Arts Awards surgery, Artsmark briefing, Arts Fair, Reading Arts Strategy consultation


Arts Award training – demand has been low but interest grew from new and emerging arts leaders towards the end of the programme so Readipop aims to continue with plans to provide a D&E training programme this year. • AA D&E training dates TBC – participants have been identified at least 6 trainees will participate. • Bronze/Silver – no new trainees have been identified however we plan to review and refresh existing training • Gold – there has been no demand for Gold level training but we continue to monitor the need for this and will respond and support as appropriate. Schools engagement. This has been our main challenge. Schools engagement in networking activity and CPD beyond that directly linked to arts award project delivery has been minimal and lower than in Phase 1. Schools are very positive, supportive and interested in the Reading CAN offer but cannot free up capacity to become actively involved. Teachers are unwilling or unable to attend events when they have more pressing and higher priority issues to deal with. Arts and creative activity is not seen as contributing to their targets linked to performance related pay. If is hoped that the proposed Cultural Learning Partnership model with more leadership from head teachers and strategic bodies will have a greater effect on schools engagement.


Readipop and Jelly will continue to deliver a programme of Reading CAN networking activity beyond this phase with the support of Reading Council. It is hoped that this network of artists and arts organisation can engage with the proposed CLP and work to develop schools based programmes. New partnerships are emerging. The Reading CAN supported Cultural Life event in Jan 2015 and Reflections 2015 event have highlighted the need to include an offer for CYP in the planned Reading 2016 year of culture. The process has begun and is set to develop through 2015/16. Readipop plans to deliver Arts Awards training in Summer 2015 and will continue to embed Arts Awards in our work with YP.

Work with key Reading schools to embed Artsmark and work with partners to support Arts Award opportunities for CYP in Reading

• Artsmark suspended by A.C.E. – 28/10/14

• Need to know more about Artsmark; relevant for secondary schools? • Knowing contacts in schools and youth clubs, our group having training facilitated

• I am trying to use Arts Award with young offenders but not managing to get them to buy in to the process and need resources/venues

• Be a group which can work with young people engagement in schools and youth clubs • Could benefit from a good practice/resource and ideas sharing system

• Why only schools, why not wider educational establishments? • Free Arts Award training • What is a “Key” school? • List of preferred artists per field available to schools

• Leighton Park School – Arts Award, Bronze, Silver and Gold – starting up now • Love from ‘stem’ to ‘steam’


An improvement in Reading’s Cultural offer to children and young people, particularly for ‘hard to reach’ young people and areas of low opportunity

• Online updates and culture awareness

• A strong network (web/email list) to ask for support and give training and advice • A better way to communicate and reach people

• Currently getting young people to produces artworks for reparation – raising money for local charities, Currently using arts as and intervention with young offenders and using coloured sand to represent emotions, currently trying to use Arts Awards with young offenders

• Planning – Want to introduce arts to more young people and have it offered as a positive activity with real opportunities

• Projects with Reading College, ACE funded project with NEETS, Arts Award and to share case studies

• Support and tips on partnership working – look up what their aims are as an organization and how can you help • Evidence sharing, such as how it ties in with national strategies. E.g. Mental health • Agencies willing to work with young offenders and who can advise/assist us

• R3L Theater Company – Internships in large professional theatre productions, open to +18 yrs hoping to work in the theatre – needs funding for low-income families. Youth theatre productions, working with pro-directors, choreographers etc. Summer schools for 4-13 yrs, our productions offer discounts for young students and also ‘Pay Student What You Want Night’, £10 on Tuesdays, £8 pupil/school fix

• Leighton Park School takes part in outreach projects. E.g. Took students to Thameside School in Caversham. They are happy to work with us in a couple of weeks. We have lots of talented children in music, filmmaking etc.

• We are running workshops in parks and woodlands and have successfully engaged with ‘hard to reach’ by partnering with children centers. They are very keen

Reading based culture and arts organisations to work together to initiate and access funding for children and young people’s cultural provision

• The Arts Collective – Centre network of over 100 local people involving in the arts. Events program currently dormant due to lack of time/energy/resources. Help?

• Starting a group to deliver cultural learning and events

• Offer – classes, courses and opportunities. To be aligned with the children of 8yrs who are being funded socially

• MERL and Reading Museum work together formally and informally • Constellation • New outcome – music and art with a range of genres, Reading 2016 – a Music and Art Installation

• Approach to private schools and benefactors • How can we talk about funding plans when we may be in competition? Response – Working together makes us stronger ad a better chance at being successful in funding. One stick will snap, a group together will not

• A directory of arts groups

Create and support new partnerships to develop new work and focusing on a cultural offer for children and young people in Reading

• Reading CAN badge/mark to show engagement with young people

• Leighton Park School – see post it note on ‘hard to read’ sheet; reach out events concerts for other schools.

• Provide workshops to expose young people to rural life

• Create a link between contemporary art and university, schools and the public via our connections as graduates through a program and workshops and pop-up events

• Intern from Reading University to lead a project to investigate support and assist/finding requests • To work in partnership with other organisations

• Different organisations to have regular meetings, agree a cross-strategy

• We need to work out a youth-focused way to promote the ‘ cultural offer’, more accessible/catchy language

• Wild play and learning in Reading’s parks and woodlands, we’d like to hear from any arts organisations who do stuff outside, or would like to

• We need – exhibition space/access to empty spaces within the town centre (easy for people to travel around), knowledge of how to apply for these spaces on a temporary pop-up basis. We want jobs, spaces, money and involvement from every culture, age and background

• Partner support, funding and support advice

Support and embed young people’s voice in the development of the Reading cultural offer • Development rather than the provision

• Offer – A school goal of young people who have views and opinions and have a passion for the arts • Encourage CAN members to ask young people about more than their own offer and share feedback • A long term plan for AC community engagement • Online engagement, taster sessions, have motivated keynote speakers

• Seeing other Arts logs and time to hear from PPL successful in delivering Arts Award • Young people’s choice of engagement i.e. net groups

• Sound media impact What do you want?

• Youth interest and continued engagement in cultural events

• A long term plan for AC community engagement What do you need?

• Hear the young people’s voice

• Where can we listen

• Gate keepers (establish work experience) • Set a goal • Budget • Premises (access and safety for all)