IT is the flagship £28.5 million cultural centre which aims to put Southampton on the map as leading centre for arts and entertainment in the south.

Today the city’s new arts complex will be thrust onto the national stage when it receives a landmark £1.6 million boost ahead of the curtain raising for the centre’s grand opening, the Daily Echo can exclusively reveal.

Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured right) says he is set to give his blessing to the scheme when he pledges the fresh funding during today’s Autumn Statement announcement.

It represents a milestone moment for the Studio 144 complex – centrepiece of the city’s new Cultural Quarter – which just 18 months ago faced controversy after it went over-budget.

As previously reported almost £2 million of public money needed to be pumped into it after the city council said rising labour and material costs had led to extra costs which would lead to a £1.95m bill to the public purse.

The cash will close the funding gap for the development in Guildhall Square on the former Tyrrell and Green site.

It fully opens next spring and will feature an auditorium, gallery, arts facilities and restaurants to create 300 new jobs.

It is part of a wider, £40 million complex built by Grosvenor Developments and McLaren boasting seven coffee shops and restaurants, some of which have already opened, and 38 new apartments.

Construction firm Galliford Try saw through the £12.6m fit-out project.

The complex features a 447-seat auditorium, 135-seat studio, screening, rehearsal and workshop spaces and a cafe and bar will be unveiled.

It will also be home to a new contemporary art gallery operated by the John Hansard Gallery and the new home of Nuffield Theatre – bringing together two world class organisations in the heart of the city for the first time.

There will also be state-of-the-art film and video studio facilities managed by City Eye which marks its 30th anniversary.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “This funding closes the gap on the £28.5 million project, which will bring new life to the city’s developing cultural quarter following funding investments made already by both Southampton City Council and Arts Council England.”

A spokeswoman for the centre said its opening represents an “important stage” in the city’s cultural regeneration and added: “It will be a new cultural hub and social space for the city, as well as producing and commissioning new and innovative work that receives attention nationally and internationally.“

The new facility will bring outstanding cultural experiences, opportunities and economic benefits to the whole of Southampton, unlocking the creative potential of the city.”

Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts (pictured left) said: “It’s great to see the excitement building across Southampton as we move closer to opening this fantastic facility, which will offer new attractions for residents and visitors alike.

“The arts complex will act as a catalyst for the cultural and economic regeneration of the city, bringing investment, jobs and new homes to a previously derelict site.”