University appoints Director of Attenborough Centre

Sally Jane Norman, just appointed as the first Director of the new Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, will lead a £4 million refurbishment of the creative space in time for the University's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2011

The University of Sussex has appointed Sally Jane Norman as the first director of the new Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on campus.

The Centre, formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, is set to re-open in time for the University's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2011. A £4 million refurbishment will provide a flexible auditorium with a mixture of up to three stages and up to 500 seats; an exhibition gallery; a café; and several studios.

Ms Norman, who takes up her post in January 2010, will develop specific dates for a formal opening and the building could be in use again during the 2010-11 academic year.

She will also develop and manage the Centre's facilities for research projects, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

In addition, Ms Norman will work to develop innovative, creative and entrepreneurial engagements with professional arts organisations outside the University.

Ms Norman is currently director of Newcastle University's Culture Lab, which she founded as a practice-led research platform providing an environment for academics and practitioners working beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. Culture Lab promotes synergies between artists, cultural and scientific institutions and the creative industries.

She has previously led research activities at institutions including the International Institute of Puppetry (Charleville-Mézières), Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Karlsruhe), IRCAM (Paris) and the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (Amsterdam), where she was Artistic Director from 1998 to 2000. Prior to her Newcastle appointment, she was Director-General of the Ecole européenne supérieure de l’image in France, where she created a pioneering practice-led PhD programme in Digital Arts.

Holder of a Doctorat de IIIè cycle and Doctorat d’état from the Theatre Institute, Université de Paris III, Ms Norman is a theatre and art historian interested in performing arts and technology, scenography and theatre architectures. She is currently preparing a monograph linking theatre's integration of recent technological developments - including artificial life, interactive and distributed environments - with a broader history of theatre architectures, stagecraft and live performance.

Welcoming Ms Norman's appointment, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, said: "This role will be key in developing the University's creative arts strategy."

Ms Norman said: "The University of Sussex is the ideal place to develop this unique project: in addition to Sussex’s reputation for innovative interdisciplinary teaching and research, the Attenborough name stands for passionate commitment to education and the arts. Founding the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts thus represents an exciting opportunity and challenge, with much to live up to.”

Advertisements for the new post appeared in Times Higher Education and the Argus in May; interviews were held in late July.

Notes for Editors


If you would like to organise a phone or email interview, please contact the University of Sussex Press office.


Last updated: Friday, 11 September 2009