The Rising Sun Arts Centre is a small, independent arts centre, which for over 20 years has been staffed and run by volunteers. The Rising Sun started as a squat, created by a group of intrepid artists who saw a need for ground-level arts development for and by the people of Reading.
The centre gained charity status in the mid-90s, and has been at the heart of Reading’s cultural life ever since. The Rising Sun creates a space where creativity flourishes and people come together to make things happen. Our programme includes a varied line up of high quality events and activities including avant garde music from some of the world’s top improvisers, ground breaking, participatory projects and the best band nights in town, all managed by volunteers without the benefit of core funding or full time staff.
We are a registered charity governed by a board of trustees and managed by one part time paid worker. All the core work of the centre is done by volunteers and the centre survives on the basis of earned income with occasional funding for specific projects. Participation lies at the core of the arts centre’s vision and is crucial for the practical, everyday running of the centre.
The Rising Sun was built in 1877 as a temperance house by the architect Alfred Waterhouse who also designed the slightly grander Natural History Museum. Silver Street at that time was situated in one of Reading’s most notorious districts.The building first became an arts centre in 1990 when a group of artists rescued it from a semi-derelict state. Their actions created a community-based arts venue that has flourished for over 20 years. The centre has been through lots of changes, but throughout it has been a venue where many people have been able to enjoy the arts and have been inspired to engage with and participate in creative activities. The building is now a grade two listed building and although we have broken with its original intentions (and installed a licensed bar!) the aim is still to bring something positive to the town and provide people with opportunity and inspiration.