Culture means different things to people; from art to sport, music, theatre, dance and much more. In our series of 'Our Community' interviews, we introduce you to some the many Sotonians who have helped to keep culture alive in our city throughout the recent pandemic. ·
Today we caught up with Julianne Watling-McCarthy, Artistic Director of The Stage Door; Southampton's only Fringe Theatre, Live Music Venue and Bar. Julianne is also one of the organisers of Southampton Pride.
Tell us about yourself and your links to Southampton
I was born in Southampton and grew up here. I moved away to go to Drama School in London, but moved back home after my 3 years away. I went on to do a Degree in Screenwriting at Solent University. I have always loved my hometown and I'm really happy to have a cultural business in a city that I love.
Why is Southampton special to you?
Southampton is special to me because it holds so many memories, both from my childhood and from more recent years. I love that it's a waterfront city and that it is surrounded by beautiful places like the New Forest. It's also special because it has a range of diverse cultures that compliment each other and enrich our city.
What’s your favourite place in Southampton?
My favourite place in Southampton is Victoria Country Park. I spent a lot of time there as a child and it's my favourite place to take my own children. It's a lovely park, steeped in so much history and has wonderful views of the Solent.
What does culture mean to you?
To me, culture means a shared experience that can educate, influence and entertain you; it means experiencing different artforms that can challenge what you think and how you feel. It means diversity and inclusion.
How has down affected what you do?
Lockdown has had a massive impact on what we do at The Stage Door. All of our live events and performances have stopped during each lockdown, but fortunately we have managed to do some online streaming and we were lucky enough to produce quite a few socially distanced events when the restrictions allowed it. We can't wait to welcome our audiences back, as there's nothing quite like live entertainment and that shared experience.
Why should Southampton be named City of Culture 2025
There is so much to see and do in our city. It has a diverse and welcoming community and we are proud of our city. Being named City of Culture will help the different communities in Southampton to realise their potential and strive for more. It is a wonderful city and should be recognised for being so.