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The University of Southampton

City arts complex award ensures ambitious future for John Hansard Gallery

Published: 12 July 2005

The University of Southampton's John Hansard Gallery is set to become the second biggest temporary exhibition gallery in the UK as part of a new multi-purpose arts complex in Southampton's City centre.

Arts Council England announced recently that they will award the City grants totalling £5.75 million to complete a £14 million arts venue.

Due to open in 2008, Southampton's New Arts Complex (SNAC - a working title until a permanent name is chosen in the next few months) will bring together a diverse mix of art forms, including visual, performing, film and video and Asian arts in a dynamic new building, overlooking the City's East Park and Guildhall Square. Featuring two landmark towers, the building will bring alive a cultural quarter in the city centre, providing a breathtaking new visitor attraction.

The John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton, has been influential in the artworld, both nationally and internationally, for 25 years, and is one of the leading partners of SNAC. The gallery space will cover a significant proportion of the three lower floors of the building, with the remaining space occupied by the other arts organisations (Art Asia, City Eye and The Performing Arts Organisation), restaurants, bars and cafes. A further eleven floors above will house luxury apartments.

Stephen Foster, Director of the Gallery for 18 years, said of the award: "The John Hansard Gallery enjoys a fantastic reputation amongst the art world at an international level. This project will give us the world-class facilities that such an important organisation deserves. But it will also make sure that all of our facilities will be not only available, but used extensively, by more and more people from the City and the region. Working in partnership with other organisations will bring ever wider audiences to all of us, and will create the buzz at the heart of the City that Southampton has been waiting for."

The University's Secretary and Registrar, John Lauwerys, commented: "This is excellent news for the arts and for the people of Southampton, who will benefit enormously from this exciting project in which the University is a key partner. I am delighted that the John Hansard Gallery will be able to move to a prime city centre location in the new complex - the first time the University has had a base in the heart of the city centre since its forerunner, the Hartley Institution, moved from Below Bar to Highfield in 1919.

"In its new location many more people will be able to view the exciting exhibitions staged by the John Hansard Gallery, which is one of the top contemporary galleries in the UK."

Further funding from Southampton City Council and the University will ensure that funds are in place for the arts partners' ambitions for the scheme to be fully realised. With work due to start on site early in 2006, a projected opening in mid-2008 will provide the largest arts complex on the south coast, and significantly develop Southampton's aspiration for a cultural quarter of national importance.

Notes for editors

The Partners
Southampton City Council, which receives a grant of £5 million from Arts Council England for this project.

The John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton, is a public gallery of contemporary art. For 25 years the Gallery has continued to develop as a centre of excellence, drawing a wide national audience to its vigorous programme of exhibitions and events, bringing contemporary debate into the public arena.

The John Hansard Gallery is a major funded client of Arts Council England, is part of the University of Southampton and is a member of the Gallery Go consortium. Visit for more information.

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has around 20,000 students and nearly 5000 staff.

Art Asia is an inner city organisation that promotes all Asian art forms and initiates the city's annual Mela festival. Visit for more information. Art Asia was awarded £0.75 million by Arts Council England for the project.

City Eye was established in 1987, provides training and facilities in film and video production, and is the regional agency for Screen South. Visit for more information.

The Performing Arts Organisation is the working name for Southampton's newest venue for a full range of live performing arts, including theatre, cabaret, comedy, music and a range of education and outreach projects.

Funding has been provided by Southampton City Council, Arts Council England, University of Southampton and SEEDA (South East England Development Agency).

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