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Rising Sun Arts Centre


General Info

Full Name: Rising Sun Arts Centre
Opened-Closed: original building built 1877 – 1990 as arts centre- current

Brief History

The Rising Sun Arts Centre is an independent Arts Centre in Reading.
Firmly rooted in the community the Centre has brought ground breaking, high quality arts to the town for over 20 years.
Our programme is the work of skilled programming, marketing, staffing and support teams and we work closely with promoters and arts organisations to put on a wide range of live events, activities and projects.
We have a great track record of bringing new and innovative arts to Reading, trying out new ideas and giving people the opportunity to experiment. We have a strong commitment to making participation work and to making the Centre as inclusive as possible.
The Centre runs a number of participatory projects which we believe are pioneering examples of what can be achieved when participation has the opportunity to work.

The Building/History

The Rising Sun was built in 1877 as a Temperance House by the Architect Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed the Reading Town Hall and slightly grander Natural History Museum in London. The Centre at that time was situated in one of Reading’s most notorious districts. The grade two listed building first became an Arts Centre in 1990 when it was squatted by a group of artists who rescued it from a semi derelict state. Their actions created a community based arts venue which has flourished for over 20 years. Between being a temperance house at an arts venue, it was a storehouse for a garden centre.

The Rising Sun is now a registered charity governed by a board of Trustees. With the core work of the centre being done by volunteers the centre aims to promote arts and creative activity in the community.


Marcus (MidiMidis) in interview: “There’s two specific periods in time that are very dear to me.

The first is where it all started, The Rising Sun Art’s Centre. Whilst at uni I’d leave everyone behind at the union to drink their snake-bites and venture of into an alien town to find some live music. I stumbled upon this characteristic looking place called The Rising Sun Art’s Centre and for the following 6 years I’d go and see some of the coolest kooky, odd, fascinating and exciting gigs ever.

So I nagged a local promoter Sid Siddle for ages telling him I had this new ‘amazing’ project and wanted a gig. He was sceptical at first but eventually we got one. We only really had 4 songs, and we didn’t even know if our equipment would work. So to fill the set so it would be 20 mins we made a load of Sonic Youth-like noise and feedback either side of the set. The rest is kinda history, because we were booked to play every month for a year or so, even starting our own fanzine night. I loved that period.

But as for live venues again Rising Sun Art’s Centre, it’s like a 2nd home and we left our amp there for young bands to use, so that’s a connection.

Anything at The Rising Sun Arts Centre is good, always varied which I like, I get so bored of ‘samey’ bands and ‘samey’ music, I like to see all sorts.” (full interview here)

Links and Resources

Personal account from Rising Sun volunteers

Trail Directions

Clockwise to

turn left out of the entrance – go straight over at the cross-junction (along London Street) – the After Dark is on the left down a short alley

Anti-clockwise to

leave the building and turn left – at the crossing, turn right along London Road – on your right you will see the entrance to the University Campus (an archway) – go through it and the Great Hall is the centre building of the campus