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Arts Reading, Inc. is a collaboration of cultural groups in Reading that came together as a result of a study done from July-November 2014 by a consultant to explore the potential for creating a cultural district, intended to help enhance and sustain the vibrancy of downtown Reading, while fostering local cultural development. The study was funded by a grant from the state and the result of the study was an exploratory report identifying recommendations to guide Reading in pursuit of state Cultural District Designation and for the creation of an organization to work collectively to promote cultural activities and offerings in the Community. The working group involved in the grant project, made up of representatives from numerous cultural groups with support from the town and has continued to meet since the issuance of the report in November, 2014. 

The current Executive Officers and Board of Directors known as Arts Reading, Inc. continues to grow and foster new connections, and expand with more members, events, and enthusiasts! We find creative ways to promote Reading as a cultural center by working with the Town and Community, presenting a website complete with a calendar of those member events in the town, advocating for cultural organizations, and the individual artist, and leading the original effort to create a Cultural District and Center in the downtown area.

What is a Cultural District?


A Cultural District is a specific, well-recognized,labeled, mixed use area of a city or town in which a high concentration of cultural facilities, assets and activities serve as an anchor to attract people.


A walkable, compact area, easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic, and economic activity.


Facilities include: Performance spaces, galleries, artist studios, museums, arts-related retail shops, music or media production studios, dance studios, high schools or colleges for the arts, libraries, recreation facilities, arboretums, gardens, etc.


Because they are mix-ed use developments, cultural districts often incorporate other facilities such as retail spaces, offices, and occasionally residential uses.  Certain types of businesses such as restaurants are seen as particularly complimentary to cultural facilities.

Potential Benefits of a Cultural District

  • Attract artists and cultural enterprises.

  • Encourage business and job development.

  • Establish the district as a tourist destination.

  • Preserve and reuse historic buildings.

  • Enhance property values.

  • Foster local culture development.

Overview of Cultural District and Center Components

  • Concentration of cultural assets in a walkable area.

  • Cultural resources of organizations, complimentary businesses, and individual artisans that are interested and willing to put in the effort.

  • A Focused Plan (vision, goals, activities).

  • A partnership organization to manage the district (coordinate activities, continue to set and accomplish goals, market the district and fund-raise as necessary

  • Leadership to get the process started and continue!

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