WHAT DEPRESSING news that the Nuffield Southampton Theatres are “to close for good”.

What does this really mean, why have we come to this and what can be done about it?

Will the government’s rescue package for the arts be in time to come to the rescue?

The Nuffield at Southampton University was built in 1963.

Since then it has operated successfully making a huge contribution to the cultural life of Southampton.

Daily Echo:

When the new City theatre opened and was to be run jointly with the university theatre many people must have wondered if this could be done successfully and if there would be enough support from the public for both theatres.

It seems that the new one has dragged down the old one.

The new theatre was from the start an architectural disappointment.

To say that it blends in with its surroundings is not a compliment.

The new building was heralded as a major arts venture as the hub of Southampton’s cultural quarter.

But although it cost over £30 million this was clearly not enough for a truly iconic (sorry, much overused cliché) building.

Compromises were made so the theatre is surrounded with chain restaurants and food outlets with all the artistic activity going on upstairs and nothing at ground-floor level to entice people in.

Daily Echo:

But we are where we are and that is the building we have.

In my family we were determined that in spite of its failings this venture must not be allowed to fail and so we have done our best to support it.

Then along comes the coronavirus.

Nobody could have foreseen that and its ongoing effects on the arts.

So the company running both theatres has gone into administration. Why?

Which creditors were pressing for payment in these unprecedented circumstances?

They should be named.

It seems that the operating of Studio 144 was the last straw in getting somebody to take over the existing theatres.

The tail wagging the dog? Better surely to have the two main theatres running and just mothball the Studio for the time being?

The university still owns the original theatre.

Daily Echo:

The university’s website vigorously promotes its arts facilities on campus.

Will it now promote the theatre there?

Will it encourage the building to become listed?

It has already allowed one fine building by Sir Basil Spence to be demolished.

The university must now declare its unqualified support for the original Nuffield Theatre and set out its plans for so doing.

So let’s have more than just handwringing and expressions of sorrow but proper explanations and proposals for the future please.

Peter Stone

Romsey