Reading: Independent cinema and music location gets green light

Really Local Group has signed a deal with Moorgarth to transform a 14,000 sq ft space in Reading’s Broad Street Mall into an independent cinema, music and events centre.

Really Local Group, a developer focused on creating and restoring cultural infrastructure by ‘putting the heart back into the high street’, and Moorgarth, owners of Broad Street Mall, will deliver on a long-held ambition to re-imagine the centre this summer.

Due to open early summer 2020, Really Local Group will repurpose the ground and first-floor unit of the former Argos store to provide a four-screen cinema. In addition, the new space will include food kiosks, outdoor terrace seating area and a café bar run by Compound Coffee, their first venture outside London.

In testament to Really Local Group’s commitment to ‘genuine community engagement and consultation’, it is asking the people of Reading to help name the new venue. Those with a perfect naming idea which pays tribute to Reading are asked to tweet the developers at @reallylocalgrp with suggestions by February 18. The winner will be awarded an annual membership complete with free cinema tickets and further discounted cinema tickets, food and drink, as well as an invite to the exclusive venue launch party this summer (plus 10 friends).

The design, by Lyttelton. Yates, uses a bold colour scheme to create a sense of uniformity and symmetry throughout the venue. Both the floorings and walls of the food kiosks, terrace seating area, private hire room and the cinema lobby will be a sage green in tribute to Reading’s colour palate and to unify the neighbouring spaces. The entrance, café and the outdoor seating area on the upper level will be in a vibrant yellow to draw footfall to its ‘warm and welcoming aesthetic’, while the carpets, walls and seats in the cinema screening rooms will be a saturated blue.

This Is Really Local Group’s second project, designed to provide a platform for Reading’s established creative communities in art, film and music. All of the film and events programming will be carried out in house by a venue team based in Reading and will be a mix of art house, event cinema, locally produced material alongside more mainstream films.

This deal follows Really Local Group’s successful launch of Catford Mews, which opened in September 2019. Catford Mews, a new cultural hub for Lewisham, includes a three-screen cinema, the first multiscreen in Lewisham in almost 20 years, live entertainment space, pop-up food market including a variety of stalls from local traders and a full-service bar serving local brands.

Really Local Group creates and restores cultural infrastructure, acting as a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the local area. The company’s mission is to provide inclusive and affordable venues for communities, which will be uniquely designed to reflect their locality, serving as a community ‘hub’ for the area.

Really Local Group has also recently acquired the former Pressing Plant unit at The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, West London from U+I. The new site will provide a cinema, as well as a live music venue, community spaces, a café and bar. Really Local Group intends to collaborate with the EMI Archive trust to provide an interactive EMI exhibition space, celebrating its rich history as part of the global music trade.

Preston Benson, founder of Really Local Group commented: “We are very excited about coming to Reading, to enhance the cultural infrastructure offer in a town with an established creative community. Working with Moorgarth and Reading Borough Council, we hope to be able to curate a new ‘cultural quarter’ for the town and secure collaboration opportunities with local independent businesses, artisans and traders.”

Gary Lewis: managing director, Moorgarth Group, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Really Local Group to deliver our long-held aspiration of bringing an exciting and vibrant new cinema to Broad Street Mall. This is another milestone in the re-imagining of the centre.”