We’re back, and the semester is in full swing after our rather long summer break and we’re back in the gem of Great Britain’s south coast; Southampton, however something is different, yes our very own Cultural Quarter is up and running after a long development process and it looks fantastic with all of its new outlets, restaurants and other establishments, such as the arts complex and Seacity museum breathing some new life into the QE2 mile. However is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
The huge building project is cited to have costed some £40 million according to culturesouthampton.org, which is a lot of Saturday nights out when you think about it! So, how is it doing with its expected £3 million turnover? It would seem great in some areas while struggling in others; The Director of Culture for Southampton, James Gough is confident in the quarter’s success. Southampton has one of the best modern art collections outside London but with a much lower attendance.
Other parts of the quarter are quiet when university is over due to the student population being the main economic lifeline for the city. The SeaCity museum has been struggling to gain its expected numbers, a year on from it opening its doors nearly some 150,000 have passed through its doors mainly due to the Titanic centenary event which brought in some 20,000 extra visitors above their target, one employee of the museum- a Katy Major kindly spoke with me.
“It comes in waves, sometimes it can be fairly busy, especially Mondays when cruise ships come in, the rest of the time its tourists and school trips but very little local and student presence if I’m honest”
I pondered about this for a while, is it fair to call the quarter a success when it has some ups and downs? Was the money used well on a seemingly great looking but difficult project? The critics have struck hard with strong word, if one is to take a look through google and yelp reviews.
As a student I’m attracted to the many bars and cafes on offer with the quarter and the two biggest ones, Turtle Bay and The Artisan, respectfully seeming doing very well with the city’s student population but when we are gone it would be a fair guess to note they could face some struggle to muster up business. This is why it would be a wise choice for there to be a bigger push for students to explore the quarter’s offerings rather than stick to the usual 2 4 1 cocktail hours.
Maybe it’s time to take a look at that art exhibit you always pass on the way to uni and enjoy what else the Cultural Quarter has to show!
By Tobias Anson Palma