Two weeks ago, Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) announced its fall into administration, after the blow of the Coronavirus pandemic finally took its toll on the cultural community.
It’s the first theatre to collapse under the strain of lockdown, but it’s sadly likely that it won’t be the last. At the time of writing this post, a buyer has still not been found, and a campaign has been launched to save NST; a petition to #SaveTheNuff had thousands of signatures within 48 hours, and it’s now rapidly approaching 10,000.
This is a story that has hit the local community hard – and has sent the world of theatre reeling. Personally, it has been heartbreaking to watch unfold.
If you’ve read my blog posts before, you may have noticed that the majority of my theatre reviews were for shows at NST. I have a very close connection with the place for multiple reasons, not least because it helped me push my writing career forward.
It seemed only right, then, to share my thoughts and feelings in words.
The wonderful folk at BroadwayWorld UK – for whom I write reviews occasionally! – published my piece titled We Can’t Lose Nuffield Southampton Theatres – It’s The Beating Heart of Our City.
You can read the full article on the BroadwayWorld UK website – but here’s a snippet to get you going:
“I owe an awful lot to NST, as I think many others do, too, judging by the huge response to the news of its recent lurch into administration – both locally and nationally. This local theatre of ours is the beating cultural heart of Southampton, and, only two years into its city-centre glow up, it’s been cut short in its prime.
“I’d like to say that this makes NST unique, but the truth is that there are countless theatres and creative venues nationwide that are considered the centre of their communities. Outside of the theatrical powerhouse of London, there are venues and teams – big and small – in cities, towns and even villages across the UK which will be teetering on the very edge at this stage of the lockdown.”
I remain hopeful that, at the very least, NST will remain a cultural creative hub in the city, even if it does have to be in a different guise.
I’m so devastated that our time with this theatre may be coming to an end far sooner than is fair, and my thoughts are with the incredible staff and communities directly affected. It’s not too late yet, though, to save NST, to save culture in Southampton, or to save the UK’s theatre industry before too many other opportunities are lost.