Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) has announced a new Founding Friends membership scheme ahead of the opening of its new city centre venue, Nuffield Southampton Theatres City (NST City), giving theatre lovers the rare opportunity to take their place in a pivotal moment in NST’s history, and enjoy a host of exciting events and benefits.

Benefits include a naming inscription on the new donor wall at NST City, bespoke tours of NST City before it opens to the public, complimentary tickets, invitations to NST press nights and post-show parties with the cast, and opportunities to attend read-throughs, technical and dress rehearsals. In addition to Founding Friends NST has three other membership levels so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the opening year.

The membership scheme will support NST’s work on and off the stage, and enable NST to continue to run its Free Ticket Scheme for young and disadvantaged people in the region.

NST’s work in the community has already helped to change the lives of thousands of young children, teenagers and adults for the better, with support from its existing network of partners and supporters.

Seventeen-year-old Leon Smith joined the company’s 2017 Hampshire County Youth Theatre programme through a bursary placement and referral from Romsey Young Carers. He was living independently with two social workers and, in the previous week, had been admitted to hospital with alcohol related poisoning.

Leon had a CAHMs worker, who met with him every day at lunch. The project leadership communicated about his needs in advance and agreed that there would be no separation or distinctions in what NST did for Leon, but the company did monitor and mediate all activity, and encouraged him to reach the high expectations it had of all participants.

NST challenged Leon’s expectations of what he thought he could do and his own perception of his emotional needs and believed the whole thing to have been very positive for him.

Since the programme, Leon has signed up to volunteer at NST and joined the Youth Theatre full time.

Director of Development and Communication, Laura Eastwood, said: “We are extremely excited to be opening NST City. We are really looking forward to welcoming people in into the building and sharing it with everyone. Nuffield Southampton Theatres are a registered charity and membership support, at all levels, is essential to enable us to continue all our work, on and off our stages.

“We work with 20,000 people each year through Connect, our extensive youth and community projects; and Laboratory our programme to support emerging artists. We have four membership levels, so there are plenty of ways to get involved. Our new Founding Friends will help us celebrate the opening year of NST City with close access to our productions and special events, whilst crucially supporting our work.”

NST City will open in February 2018 with the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Shadow Factory, directed by Samuel Hodges and designed by 59 Productions, the Tony award-winning design team behind the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.