Southampton marked the launch of the city’s ambitious new venue for visual art, theatre and film with a vibrant celebration of culture.
Artists and audiences gathered to take part in the launch of Studio 144 which officially opened its doors on Friday 16 February.
The long-awaited opening provides a new home to two world-class arts organisations – Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) and John Hansard Gallery – in the heart of the city centre, together with media and film specialists City Eye.
The opening of the venue, which is split across two buildings centred in Guildhall Square, marks the completion of Southampton’s Cultural Quarter.
The celebration coincided with the opening of NST City’s inaugural play, The Shadow Factory by Howard Brenton, as well as inviting audiences to explore the new spaces of John Hansard Gallery and City Eye.
The crowds then came together in Guildhall Square outside the new building for a performance by ZoieLogic Dance Theatre, which celebrated Southampton as a city of creators.
In advance of the official opening of John Hansard Gallery and City Eye in May, audiences were invited to experience the new gallery and film spaces across a dynamic sampler programme of activity, featuring artists including Rhona Byrne, Rob Crosse, Hetain Patel, Sam Laughlin, Elaine Mitchener and participative public projects.
The Gallery, which is part of the University of Southampton and one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries, reopens officially in May with a headline exhibition of works by Gerhard Richter from the ARTIST ROOMS collection. This exhibition celebrates the huge breadth and impact of the work of one of the world’s most significant contemporary artists.
NST City is NST’s brand new city-centre arts venue. This new venue transforms NST’s ability to show high-quality professional work from local, national and international artists and allows the programme to include dance, film and music. NST will run the new city centre venue alongside its existing theatre, NST Campus, on the University’s Highfield Campus.
Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton said:
We are delighted to join in celebrating the completion of Studio 144, an ambitious cultural venue for the people of Southampton and for the University of Southampton. This extraordinary project is a testimony to Southampton City Council and our University’s determination and commitment to the fundamental role that arts and culture play in creating a thriving, healthy city.
Woodrow Kernohan, Director of the John Hansard Gallery, added:
Moving into Studio 144 is a sea change for John Hansard Gallery, bringing us into the heart of the city centre and tripling the space available for public programming. Moving in alongside our neighbours City Eye and Nuffield Southampton Theatres, this is a new exciting phase for Southampton’s Cultural Quarter and a new public-facing chapter for John Hansard Gallery.
The official opening of Studio 144 marked the completion of the cultural quarter, a project overseen by city councillor and Southampton alumna Satvir Kaur.
Satvir (BA History and Politics) holds the portfolio for communities, culture and leisure for the local authority and spoke of how the event marked a milestone in the cultural story of Southampton.
Southampton is on a journey to becoming the cultural destination in the south and the opening of Studio 144 is an important milestone of this journey. Not only will Studio 144 boost the local economy, creating hundreds of new jobs and bringing in thousands more visitors into Southampton, but is also great for city pride and will put Southampton on the map.