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Opening in 2017: Studio 144, Southampton's landmark arts venue
Opening of venue completes Southampton’s ambitious cultural quarter, bringing NST Nuffield Southampton Theatres and John Hansard Gallery into the city centre for the first time alongside media and film specialists City Eye.

SOUTHAMPTON.- Studio 144 opens in 2017, bringing two world-class arts organisations – NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and the John Hansard Gallery – into the heart of the city centre for the first time, together with media and film specialists City Eye.

The opening of Studio 144 is a high-profile addition to Southampton’s cultural scene and will be a keystone in the city’s tourism offer. The arts venue will employ around 100 staff, have a joint annual turnover of over £3 million, and will attract around 350,000 people a year. It is estimated that the development will drive an additional £21 million of visitor spend in the city each year.

NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, is one of the UK’s leading professional theatre companies and was named Regional Theatre of 2015 at The Stage Awards. It will operate the north performing arts building, NST City, and run this new venue alongside its existing theatre on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus.

John Hansard Gallery’s move from its current home on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus will increase access to world-class contemporary art in the city. The relocation brings the city’s galleries together to form a distinctive visual arts destination, enabling the gallery to showcase its embedded learning programme through multidisciplinary exhibitions, education and outreach work.

City Eye will mark its 30th anniversary with relocation to the new venue. This will enable it to establish a regional hub for film-related activity with enhanced education and production facilities accessible to artists, industry professionals and community filmmakers. The rich programme will also create greater opportunities for audiences to engage with specialised and independent film.

Studio 144 and its partners also represent a new centre for the development of creative skills including work-based training for local communities. It will be a hub and meeting place for small and medium enterprises, as well as the city’s vibrant student population.

Encouraging shared audience experiences, inspirations and resources, the centre will be a key driver for the city’s continued growth and outstanding artistic output for years to come.

The three artistic tenants offer outstanding engagement, education and artist development programmes and the new facilities will increase social impact through greater collaboration across organisations. It will provide unique training and development opportunities to schools and colleges, young people and local communities.

Encouraging new and diverse audiences to enjoy the arts and culture of Southampton, including those with limited previous engagement, Studio 144 partners will provide a new programme of skills workshops that both identifies and develops new talent through its productions and commissions. Alongside providing a warm welcome, the venue will also offer new economic and social benefits to local communities across the city. In all, the project represents an investment of £40 million into the build environment, infrastructure and lifestyle of the city. It is fundamental to developing the economy of Southampton City Centre as well as the wider city and region.

Studio 144 is situated on Guildhall Square, alongside Southampton City Art Gallery, SeaCity Museum, Showcase Gallery and the O2 Guildhall, at the heart of the city’s burgeoning cultural quarter. The venue will consist of two adjacent, linked, landmark buildings, framing Guildhall Square and the entrance to the Grade II listed central parks with cafés and shops at street level creating a lively destination day and night.

This ambitious project, led by Southampton City Council, has been supported by Arts Council England through their National Lottery-funded Capital programme, alongside the University of Southampton and Southampton Cultural Development Trust. The overall development, designed by CZWG, was undertaken as a collaboration between Southampton City Council and Grosvenor Developments. The arts facilities have been designed by Glenn Howells Architects and are currently being fitted out by Galliford Try. The project was born of the partners’ belief in the power of the arts to transform people, places and communities, and an understanding that cultural infrastructure capital is an important part of this.

The opening of Studio 144 will be celebrated in autumn 2017 with an Open Weekend across both buildings. Ahead of that all three organisations will be moving in from spring 2017 and welcoming audiences to experience their work with a whole programme of activity that brings the venue to life.

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