LEADING figures in the arts have voiced their sadness after the trust running Southampton’s Nuffield theatres went into administration.

The actress Susan Penhaligon and the best-selling author David Nicholls are among those hoping the move does not spell the end of the two venues.

As revealed earlier this month, the Southampton Nuffield Theatres went into administration after the coronavirus crisis cut off its revenue.

The trust is responsible for the original Nuffield Theatre at Southampton University and the NST City in Guildhall Square.

The theatre, film and TV actress Susan Penhaligon, who has fond memories of appearing in the play Painting Churches at the Nuffield, told the Daily Echo she was “very sad” at the news.

“The arts bring in £52billion in revenue and it’s theatres like the Nuffield that nurture talent. We excel at drama in the UK and we should look after it,” she said.

“It’s a worrying time for all theatres. I remember working there fondly and I loved playing the space. It’s hosted some good work over the years and given local people, who wanted a start in the theatre, jobs.”

David Nicholls, former actor and the best-selling author of Starter for Ten and One Day, told the Guardian he had been shaken by the news about the Nuffield.

“The first play I ever saw was there. It was the only theatre I had access to, so its loss strikes a chord,” he said.

“For all my own failures in that world, it was an important, inspiring place, the model of a great community rep, an introduction to amazing plays. I hope it rises again.”

The Stage, the journal of the theatre industry, reported concerns that other venues could follow the Nuffield operation into administration.

The original Nuffield Theatre was built by the University of Southampton, supported by the Nuffield Foundation, for the people of the city.

It was officially opened by the theatrical legend Dame Sybil Thorndike in March 1964. It became an independent producing theatre in 1982.

In 2015, the Nuffield was named Regional Theatre of the Year at the Stage Awards. The second venue, NST City, was opened in 2018.

Southampton Nuffield Theatres made a loss of £507,000 in the financial year ending March 31, 2019, but its financial position was said to be improving before the Covid-19 lockdown.