1998-2008 CultureMix Review

Central Club Black History Mural Reading

From humble beginnings CultureMix Arts was founded by artistic director Mary Genis in 2003 to provide an umbrella platform for her eclectic portfolio of creative work.

Fashion design, costume production for theatre, TV and carnival, a music agency, flyer and poster design, and tour management services in Europe helped launch CultureMix Arts as an international UK based music and carnival arts company established since 1985.

The company now encourages participation and professional development through its orchestra, record label and work experience programme.

Boom Magazine covers
1998-1999 Boom Black Arts and Culture Magazine covers

Open Hand Open Space 1997-1998
In 1997 Mary launched Boom Magazine about Black culture, and through her work in the community in 1998 set up carnival costume making and steel band music workshops with Mangrove creating Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra.

Central Club 1999-2005
Central Club was home to RASPO in the early days with regular workshops for participants of all ages leading to events and bookings. RASPO hosted the Annual Celebration of Youth Arts Music and Dance during Black History Month in October.

RASPO join Rosie & Jim for The Steel Drum episode in 1999

In 2003 Mary set up CultureMix Arts Limited as a not for profit company limited by guarantee with no share capital. The company worked with freelance artists to deliver its projects. As the artistic director Mary was the first payroll employee.


The Abbey Gateway 2005-2010
CultureMix moved into the Abbey Gateway in 2005. The building provided offices and an ideal opportunity for growth with space for RASPO rehearsals, workshops and storage.

RASPO joins Mangrove for Panorama Steel Band Championship 2007

In 2006 CultureMix successfully applied for strategic development funding from Arts Council England for the organisation and the orchestra. The successful two year project established the company infrastructure and nurtured a professional performance ensemble for RASPO with support from Dani Richardson and Paul Watson who joined the payroll as music tutors. Reading Borough Council provided the Abbey Gateway accommodation for the duration of the project.

CultureMix continued to grow and by 2008 established its reputation as a leading steel pan music educator delivering numerous high quality education and entertainment events across the UK

Click here for more about RASPO’s early years.