Future Southampton

📰 Operator announced at newly 'topped out' Arts Complex

The vision for Southampton’s first VIP project to near completion, the new arts complex, is now secure.  Award-winning Nuffield will be the venue’s final arts occupier when it opens in 2016.

As announced at the VIP development’s ‘topping out ceremony’ on 26 March 2015, Nuffield will be the operating company for the performing arts building, which is the north building of Southampton’s new arts complex. Nuffield will also take a strategic lead role in co-ordinating creative partnerships within the complex and the city, working closely with the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery and City Eye who will be resident in the adjacent south building.

    • Arts Complex by night from Guildhall Square

    Arts Complex by night from Guildhall Square - Photo Credit: Grosvenor GBI

Opening in 2016, the new arts complex will comprise arts facilities for City Eye, the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery and a multi-purpose performing arts centre with two flexible performance spaces and a dance studio; that will be run by Nuffield, Southampton's leading producing theatre company.

Alongside the arts facilities are seven restaurant/retail units and The Guildhall Apartments, 38 stunning new residential apartments, 70% of which have already been reserved.

Commenting on the event, Richard Powell, Executive Director, Grosvenor Developments, said: “The topping out is an important milestone for the new arts complex project and a sign that we are another step closer to completing the scheme and, in turn, delivering the final phase of Southampton’s Cultural Quarter. At Grosvenor, our objective is to create great places for people to live, work, visit and enjoy. We hope that the new arts and leisure facilities will encourage more people to spend time in the Cultural Quarter, making it a vibrant and exciting part of the city.” 

Phil Pringle, Managing Director, McLaren Construction said: “We are proud to be part of this prestigious project working alongside our client Grosvenor and Southampton City Council, to construct what will be a stunning contemporary arts hub for Southampton and the wider community.  

“It has been a tremendous opportunity for the McLaren Group to reinforce our presence and expertise within the mixed-use sector.”

Grosvenor will hand over the arts complex aspect of the scheme to Southampton City Council later in the spring. Following a fit out, the arts complex will open in 2016.

It is anticipated that the first residents at The Guildhall Apartments will move in in autumn 2015, coinciding with the opening of the restaurant/retail aspect.

Nuffield, winners of Regional Theatre of the Year 2015 at the annual Stage Awards, will continue its core purpose as a leading producing theatre company, but will expand its remit to present a high quality programme of screenings and multi art form performances from across the country. Nuffield will run both the city centre venue and its highly successful theatre on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus site.

Sam Hodges, Director of Nuffield, said: “This is a culturally important moment for the city of Southampton - the new arts complex builds on years of hard work and commitment by the city council and we’re delighted to be taking on this important role. Our vision is for a building which is vibrant and accessible, which champions development, creativity and innovation and welcomes new audiences and the community. The new flexible space will open up exciting possibilities for Nuffield. We will substantially grow our organisation, as well as its scope and artistic remit, and we look forward to working in partnership with many of the city’s other venues, companies and artists.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said: "We are very pleased that National portfolio organisation Nuffield will be taking over as operating manager of the arts complex. The expertise they bring will be a valuable resource in the lead up to the opening of the arts complex in 2016 and beyond, enabling the city to fulfil its potential as a thriving contemporary arts hub. By providing strategic leadership Nuffield will build upon strengths that already exist, catalysing wider artistic activity and the development of new talent in Southampton, really putting culture at the heart of the regeneration of the city."

Simon Armstrong, Project Director for Grosvenor Developments, said: "“We’re looking forward to working alongside Nuffield who will complement JHG and and City eye – as well as our eclectic mix of national and regional restaurant operators - perfectly.”

This is a significant milestone in the delivery of this £40 million scheme, developed by Grosvenor Developments.  Nuffield, together with existing tenants University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery and City Eye will be working together to establish a fascinating programme, complementing and expanding the existing arts provision in the city.  The arts complex is due to complete in 2016.

The new performing arts building will include a flexible 447 seat main house theatre, a 135 seat studio, screening facilities, rehearsal, workshop and education spaces, and a café bar and bistro. This will transform Southampton’s ability to present a high quality cultural programme from local, national and international artists, and provide facilities for inspiring programmes of talent development, creative learning and participation.

The Arts Complex is the first of 7 VIP projects identified within Southampton City Council’s City Centre Master Plan that will be completed.