The Abbey Ruins in Reading
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Artistic ambitions remain central to the identity of Cambridge and Reading

Posted on 21 July 2016

They might be separated by about 100 miles, but Cambridge and Reading both have at least one thing in common – a belief that the arts play an important role in our sense of identity and place.

Cambridge is well known for is cultural scene, featuring organisations such as Cambridge Junction, Britten Sinfonia and Kettle’s Yard, and Reading is half way through celebrating a Year of Culture.

And now both places have something further to celebrate thanks to new investment from the Arts Council’s Ambition for Excellence programme.

Our investment in these projects also reflects our belief that a strong, local cultural offer makes life better for people in all of our communitiesAmy Vaughan

Collusion, Cambridge, £325,000

A child using a computer as part of an arts and technology project organised by Collusion
© Collusion

Cambridge is recognised as one of Europe’s leading technology innovation hubs. in_collusion will capitalise on this to establish the city as a research and development centre for artists, collaboration and production.

The three year project will bring artists, academics, and technologists together to work on the next generation of immersive and interactive artworks in Cambridge and five hubs beyond – Bury St Edmunds, Huntingdon, King’s Lynn, Peterborough and Wisbech.

As part of the project, the team at Collusion has included a specific focus on creating more opportunities for communities living in lower areas of arts engagement, such as Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Wisbech, to experience some of the best emerging arts and technology practice.

University of Reading, Reading, £495,000

University of Reading will work with Reading Borough Council, Artangel and a coalition of local arts organisations to produce Reading International. This new initiative will create a high quality contemporary visual arts offer for artists and audiences in Reading.

The three year programme includes a unique exhibition in the Victorian architecture of Reading Prison and a site-specific project in the Reading Abbey Ruins. The project aims to build on the momentum developed by Reading Year of Culture, helping to increase artistic ambition and audience expectation for the town.

A staircase in Reading jail
Reading Jail. © Reading UK CIC

Amy Vaughan, Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council, South East, said: “This round of successful Ambition for Excellence awards are projects that take a real step forward in using digital technologies and that capitalise on how cultural experiences bring communities together and create a sense of identity and place. Digital technology is transforming the way we make, distribute, consume and exchange art; these projects will build new partnerships, invite new perspectives and use digital platforms to bring existing work to wider audiences. Our investment in these projects also reflects our belief that a strong, local cultural offer makes life better for people in all of our communities.”

The Ambition for Excellence programme aims to develop talent and leadership in all regions, help build cultural capacity and support work of increased ambition. It is a £35m fund, of which the Arts Council aims to spend a minimum of £28m or 80-90% outside London to support our intention to ensure that a minimum of 75% of lottery funding is committed outside the capital by 2018.

Find out more about the Ambition for Excellence fund here.