New creative director for Attenborough Centre

The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre at the University of Sussex, has appointed a new creative director.

Laura McDermott will take up the leading post at the Centre later this year, following completion of its multi-million pound refurbishment. McDermott is currently joint artistic director of Fierce Festival – Birmingham’s highly acclaimed international festival of contemporary performance – alongside Harun Morrison.

Laura McDermott

She previously worked with Battersea Arts Centre, where her projects included a lead producer credit on the hugely successful Punchdrunk/BAC co-production The Masque of the Red Death, and was a fellow on the CLORE Leadership Programme (supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation) in 2012-13.

The Centre is named in honour of the internationally renowned actor, director and arts patron Lord Richard Attenborough, former Chancellor of the University, who died in 2014.

McDermott’s chief responsibility in the new ACCA post will be to develop it as a leading performing arts resource, forging new bonds between the university, its neighbouring city of Brighton and Hove, and the wider national and international arts communities. Of the appointment, she said:

‘I look forward to shaping the Centre around the values that were important to Richard Attenborough in his life and work: human rights, social justice and creative education. I hope to keep an international focus and to make connections between artistic and academic research. The University of Sussex, with its history of progressive politics and support for interdisciplinary practice, is the perfect context for this ambitious, optimistic new arts centre.’

The Centre was closed in 2007 and has since undergone extensive refurbishment to incorporate a flexible 350-seat auditorium, exhibition spaces, rehearsal studios, as well as new teaching and office space. On reopening later this year, it will form a dynamic cultural hub for the university and the wider community’s artistic endeavours, hosting conferences, workshops, residencies, exhibitions and screenings alongside a public programme combining contemporary art, performance, and digital technology.

Attenborough Centre image © courtesy of R H Partnership