Berkshire

Reading's South Street Arts Centre to remain open despite closure threat

South Street Arts Centre Image copyright Des Blenkinsopp
Image caption Reading Borough Council said South Street Arts Centre would now undergo a "significant upgrade"

A Reading arts centre which had been threatened with closure due to council budget cuts is to remain open.

South Street Arts Centre was awarded £500,000 by Arts Council England earlier this month.

However, Reading Borough Council, which runs the centre, had said it needed to consider the "financial implications" of the the funding before accepting it.

It has now agreed to take the cash which it said meant the authority would no longer need to subsidise the venue.

The council, which is seeking to save £51m, said the funding would also enable a "significant upgrade" to be carried out "which will resolve maintenance issues and enable it to better meet demand for hire and increased income".

Councillor Paul Gittings said "severe financial constraints" due to funding cuts from central government meant a decision on whether or not to keep South Street open "was never just about a successful Arts Council grant".

"The council, quite rightly, had to satisfy itself that the grant would mean South Street could continue without subsidy, and preferably also making a contribution to revenue.," he added.

"We are now satisfied that is the case and I am delighted that South Street will remain open."

Reading is currently celebrating a year of culture, which is sponsored by the council, with some events held at the arts centre.

More than 8,000 residents signed an online petition when a proposal to close the centre was announced in July last year.

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