University of Sussex seeks creative director for refurbished arts centre

The University of Sussex is looking to appoint a creative director for its Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) as a multi million-pound refurbishment of the campus building nears completion.

The ACCA, formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, is a contemporary, inter-disciplinary arts centre that will reopen this autumn (2015).

The new creative director will be responsible for developing the ACCA as a leading performing arts resource, forging new bonds between the University, the city of Brighton and Hove, and the wider national and international arts communities. The centre will also provide a new teaching and research space for the University, becoming an integral part of campus life.

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: “We are tremendously excited for the future of the Attenborough Centre, which was named in tribute to our much-loved former Chancellor, the late Lord Attenborough, and his family.

“We are looking for an exceptional individual of established standing and credibility in the performing arts, both nationally and internationally, to take on the challenging and rewarding role of creative director.

“Our ambition is to see the ACCA become a dynamic cultural focus for the University campus and wider community, providing a home for the creative arts and creativity in its widest sense and serving as a catalyst for innovation and learning.”

Since its closure in 2007, the iconic building designed by Sir Basil Spence and now Grade II* listed has undergone extensive repairs and refurbishment to create a modern and flexible environment for exhibitions and performances, as well as new teaching facilities and office space.

Its history goes back to 1962, when the University received a grant of £48,400 from the Gulbenkian Foundation to encourage creative arts at the University.

Construction began in the late sixties, and the building was opened in November 1969. It became the Gardner Arts Centre following a benefaction of £175,000 from local businessman, the late Dr Lyddon Gardner.

During the years until its closure, the venue played host to national and international stars of the stage, including Sir Ian McKellen, Gemma Jones and ‘alternative’ comedians such as Jack Dee and Lee Evans.  Art exhibitions featured the works of sculptor Barbara Hepworth and Russian-born modernist painter Marc Chagall, while among the many performing groups to grace the stage were contemporary dance company Ballet Rambert and physical theatre troupe Spymonkey.


Notes for editors

University of Sussex Press Office, Tel: 01273 678888, email: 

About the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA)
The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) will form the dynamic cultural hub of the University of Sussex, creating a focus for the university and the wider community’s vast artistic endeavours. This will be done through the hosting of conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and screenings, in addition to staging performances using both traditional and cutting-edge new media.

Formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, extensive work has been undertaken on the original Grade II* listed structure since 2008, with the results to be unveiled at its re-opening in September 2015. The Centre is named in honour of Lord Attenborough, former Chancellor of the University, and as a memorial to his daughter Jane Attenborough, a Sussex alumna and leading arts professional, who tragically died in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.

Further information is available at

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Monday, 16 February 2015