Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Nuffield Southampton Theatres to close permanently

NST City
Image caption The NST city centre theatre opened in 2018

A theatre operator is to close permanently after shutting its venues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Administrators said lockdown had created "severe cash flow issues" for Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST), which operated two venues in the city.

They said stakeholders, including the city council and Arts Council England, had rejected four shortlisted buyers as being unsuitable.

Eighty-six staff will be made redundant.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Actress Celia Imrie donated money to try to save the theatre operator

Actress Celia Imrie was among donors to an online fundraising appeal when NST was placed in administration in May.

She posted: "We have to save Nuffield Theatre... We need this theatre to raise our spirits and laugh again once this nightmare is over."

Administrators Smith & Williamson said efforts to sell NST had attracted more than 30 expressions of interest.

Greg Palfrey from the firm said: "This is a sad day for the theatre industry in the UK, bringing the final curtain down on nearly 60 years of history of NST."

Southampton city councillor Satvir Kaur, in charge of culture, said the shortlisted bidders were not "financially sustainable".

She said lockdown had been the "final nail in the coffin" for the theatre operator, which had been a council tenant.

NST's city centre building opened in 2018 as part of the council's £30m "cultural quarter" in Guildhall Square.

The original theatre opened in 1964 on the University of Southampton campus at Highfield.

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