Show Calendar

Artist in Residence: Marisa Carnesky

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This summer we are thrilled to be hosting Marisa Carnesky as an Artist in Residence.

Marisa Carnesky is an artist, show-woman and practitioner-researcher whose past work includes Jewess Tattooess, a solo performance exploring cultural identity and the body and Carnesky’s Ghost Train (2004-2014), a large scale arthouse touring ghost train ride that became resident on Blackpool’s Golden mile for five years. The company are interested in combining spectacular forms from magic to fairground with political and personal stories. Creating highly accessible provocative shows, the work is rooted in subverting popular culture to promote new cultural and political discourses

Marisa and her team are here creating Dr Carnesky’s The Incredible Bleeding Woman, which is also co-commissioned by Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Putting the magic back into menstruation, the piece reinvents menstrual rituals for a new era, drawing on the hidden power of a forgotten matriarchal past. Delivered with tongue in cheek reverence, this newly evolved version of the show embodies a live art/cabaret crossover – mutating between a bizarre anthropology lecture to a magic stage show, to a feminist, activist ritual featuring an extraordinary cast. You can see the The Incredible Bleeding Woman on our stage on 1 & 2 November as part of our Autumn programme.

Brighton premiere of The Faces We Lost at ACCA

A documentary about how Rwandans use personal and family photographs to remember and commemorate the loved ones they lost in the 1994 genocide will screen in our venue on 4 September.

The Rwandan genocide claimed almost a million lives in just 100 days. The world stood by as men, women and children were being hacked to death by machetes. When the international community finally decided it was time to pay attention, it did so through memorable photographs of mutilated bodies and seas of nameless refugees. But many Rwandans remember their loved ones through images of life, not death: a passport or I.D. card photo, an unguarded snap taken in the garden or a group portrait from a wedding or a baptism.

The Faces We Lost follows nine Rwandans (survivors, relatives of victims and professional memory-makers), who guide us through their stories and share their experiences, remembrance and images. It is the first documentary to explore the many functions of these priceless photographs, and one of the few films to engage with Rwandans as users of images, rather than simply their subjects.

The Faces We Lost screened widely on the international film festival circuit, but this is its Brighton premiere.

Followed by a Q&A with the director Piotr Cieplak and Claver Irakoze – one of the people from the film.

Tickets are free and can be found here

Meet our 2018 Summer artists in residence: Bryony Kimmings

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We are delighted to be hosting artists in residence in our building again this summer. As well as our public programme we regularly host artists during our summer months to think, create and rehearse.

One of our residents this summer is Bryony Kimmings.

Inspired by the taboos and anomalies of western culture, Bryony Kimming’s autobiographical works promote the airing of her own dirty laundry to oil public conversations on seemingly difficult subjects. Her award-winning work has been seen in theatres globally, in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. Kimmings’ work exists cross- platform, as music, documentaries, websites, PR campaigns & viral movements, but always ends in performance. Her most recent works have focused on socio-political injustice.

Bryony and her team are in residence working on I’m a Phoenix, Bitch, which is her first solo work in nearly a decade. The work, an ACCA co-commission, will premiere at Battersea Arts Centre in October 2019 and then head to Arts Centre Melbourne in early 2019 before touring further. I’m a Phoenix, Bitch combines personal stories with epic film,soundscapes and ethereal music creatinga powerful and joyful work about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength.

Join us for the UK’s first ever interactive feature film this Autumn

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For one night only, on October 14, the UK’s first ever interactive feature film will be broadcast live online and at cinemas around the UK, as part of the final season of 14-18 NOW: Centenary Art Commissions, including at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

Created by four-times BAFTA nominated art company Blast Theory and co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s art  programme for the First World War centenary  and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Bloodyminded will take audiences on a moving and disturbing interactive journey that asks us to make our own decisions about the morality of war.

Shot live from an army base, Bloodyminded brings together a production team featuring some of the finest independent film industry talent working in the UK today, including:

  • Executive Producer Anna Higgs has worked on Nick Cave biopic 20,000 Days on Earth and British Director Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise and A Field in England.
  • Cinematographer Ruben Woodin Dechamps has shot music videos for Radiohead and Bonobo.
  • Award-winning agent Shaheen Baig will cast the film. Shaheen’s CV includes casting films A Monster Calls and God’s Own Country as well as the BAFTA-winning television series Peaky Blinders.

Bloodyminded has been inspired by research into WW1 conscientious objectors carried out at the Imperial War Museum, and interviews with British Army veterans who generously shared their experiences of training, frontline combat, banter, bullying, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mixing fact and fiction, Bloodyminded invites audiences to interact via an app, responding to questions directed to them by a narrator who asks us to consider our own relationship with violence – as individuals and as members of a society that continues to wage war on our behalf.

Matt Adams of Blast Theory says: “We’ve always invited audiences to explore social and political questions – from the covert data collection techniques carried out by companies like Facebook; to the ethics of undercover surveillance by the police. Now we’re exploring war, starting with one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. More than 16,000 men refused to enlist in World War One, claiming status as conscientious objectors and, in many cases, paying a heavy price for their decision. 73 men died. Although they were accused of cowardice, many conscientious objectors displayed incredible bravery and earned the respect of fighting men. In Bloodyminded, we want viewers to share their own experiences of violence and bravery.”

Laura McDermott, Creative Director, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, added: “Blast Theory are serial innovators who always find a unique form for their ideas. We are proud to be co-commissioners of Bloodyminded, their latest project with 14-18 NOW. True to the spirit of our programme, this live interactive film will provide a space for critical reflection on conflict and resistance.”

Buy tickets for Bloodyminded here

ACCA Conversations: Ricardo Reveron Blanco, Communications Assistant at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

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Our Communications Assistant, Ricardo Reveron Blanco, has blogged about his experience of being part of our team. He worked at ACCA during his time as an English Literature & French final year student at the University of Sussex:


Starting my contract with the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in October 2018 has been the most fortunate experience I could have ever asked for as an undergraduate student. Copyrighting, artists liaison, interviewing and transcribing content, promoting events across social media and even being a runner for a filming production… are just some of the things I have been working on during my time in the team.


Working whilst studying has been a very personally beneficial asset where I have quickly learnt to time manage, prioritise and organise everything I do from here forth. It has also opened many other doors for me, like securing my position at another arts organisation where I also work part time. Working for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has enriched my student life and bridged the gap between being a student and becoming a full-fledged professional. I cannot thank enough the rest of the team for the mass of information I have been able to learn in such a short amount of time and now I am galvanized to confidently present myself professionally and obtain prospective careers this Autumn.


Apart from the utilitarian benefits of working for this thought-provoking contemporary arts venue, I have enjoyed promoting work that I personally have connections with. Sharing the pertinent social issues raised at Thinking Queer: Bloomsbury Group, spreading the aesthetically pleasing work of Jo Bannon’s Alba or outreaching audiences to see the political and cathartic performance of Lola Arias’ Minefield, I feel grateful that I have been part of, even in the slightest, for these artistic creations”

Meet the architects

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RHP Partnership Architects are the architects behind the multi-million pound refurbishment of our Grade II* listed building. We caught up with project architect Dave Sweeney to find out more about how RHP transformed the building and how to breath new life into an iconic structure.

What was your design philosophy when working on the plans for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts? What were the steps in the design process of the building and what inspired to make the choices you made to form this building?

At the time of our commission, the Gardner Arts Centre, as it was known previously, had lain unused and closed for several years. Our task was to work with the University of Sussex to re-establish it as a self-sustaining centre of excellence for academic research, conference use and public performance.

The modern day requirements of this multi-faceted brief had then to be reconciled with an existing, Grade II* listed, iconic 20th century building. Here, we needed to create a functional, useable space – a space that would be flexible, experimental and innovative, whilst also being practical and functional – all within a limited budget.

We tend to take a more holistic approach to design in our practice; each project we work on creates a bespoke and unique building, and so it’s very important to talk with those people who will ultimately be using the space. From this research, we can then ascertain how our design can best support these uses.

So, we carried out careful and informed design research, which included a number of thorough assessments of the existing building (designed by Sir Basil Spence in the 1960s), and consultations with both English Heritage and the conservation team at Brighton & Hove City Council. It was essential for any design to by sympathetic to the existing building’s fabric, character and use.

Wherever we could, we kept to the existing shape and configuration of the building, using spaces within its structure to run the newly servicing equipment and identified the only location in the whole building where a glass lift, providing disability access to all levels, could be installed. Perhaps the most dramatic intervention was in the main auditorium where, in a bid to both respect the original drum form yet provide a suitable acoustic environment, a new system of angular, timber baffles was installed, visually lifting the whole theatrical experience.

How would you describe our building in a way that would set it apart from other creative arts centres?

The revitalised centre is the beating heart of the practice-based arts, both on the University campus in providing for research and conferencing, and reaching to the wider, non-academic community catering for top tier contemporary public performance.

The main auditorium is capable of hosting flat floor events, promenade performances, interactive installations and experimental music. Acoustically and technically, the building is now able to accommodate professional productions. Outside the main drum of the auditorium, the three separate towers provide for teaching and learning rooms whilst the original Spence-designed public spaces now offer a café-bar and an exhibition space.

Unique to Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts is this fusion of contemporary academic learning and research and public performance, all set within an iconic building of great architectural importance.

What was the reasoning(s) behind all the circular structures?

The original reason for the circular structures was entirely aesthetic – Sir Basil Spence’s vision for the campus was a collection of buildings which connected to land and each other.

The initial idea for the circular structures came from an earlier design for the University’s Meeting House, which consisted of varied masonry cylinders. Due to budgetary reasons, this idea was never built – a simpler version of it being realised instead - and so that design was adapted for this building.

Spence wanted the building to act as a ‘corner piece’, where the campus would meet the landscape of the South Downs – appearing to be anchored directly in the natural landscape. This drew upon similar inspirations to the rest of the campus, notably the aspiration to always see through the buildings to the existing mature and tree lined landscape beyond. Hence, the vaulted gaps within Falmer House. Other visual influences could have been drawn from the late period Le Corbusier (the Maisons Jaoul, the Millowners’ Building in Ahmedabad with its unfurling curved auditorium) and Louis Kahn’s early 1960’s work with brick, concrete and pure geometries (notably the Indian Institute of Management, also in Ahmedabad).

Our task was to work with this set of forms, and discover ways in which to make them suitable for performance, thereby breathing life into a facility now suited to the needs of the 21st century.

What are the main differences between the original design by Sir Basil Spence to the now renovated building?

Sir Basil Spence’s vision was of a functional, unique, arts teaching theatre set within the context of mid 20thCentury progressive performance. However, as time past, the building was repeatedly failing to meet the requirements of a contemporary theatre. Sadly, this was largely due to its unique design causing practical constraints for many travelling theatre companies.

Our new design addresses these shortcomings– and allows for a flexible auditorium that is supplied with modern services; a new properly sized control room; revised access arrangements to permit adequate stage and equipment movements; and that is supported by high end theatre tech, all facilitating innovative teaching and learning practices.

We were also designing with greater energy efficiency in mind – something that may not have been at the forefront of an architect’s mind in the 1960’s. New windows were commissioned and additional roof insulation was installed to boost thermal performance.

Accessibility was also fundamentally improved throughout the building with the installation of a new passenger lift and a back-of-house disabled platform lift.

Whilst the peripheral spaces to the main auditorium were re-purposed, the external building was carefully repaired, and any modern additions were always considered with the original Spence design in mind – after all, it’s unusual circular shape is what makes the centre so different and unique

Have you been back to ACCA since the building’s completion and what have you enjoyed seeing here?

We attended the opening public event of ACCA in the Brighton Festival in 2016 – a one man performance of Complicite’s The Encounter by Simon McBurney – 2 years before it hit The Barbican in London. The performance was utterly breath-taking, with the audience using headphones to witness McBurney’s powerful use of the spoken, recorded and projected voice, adding to the sense of being cocooned deep within the Amazon jungle of which he spoke, and deep within the timber lined womb of ACCA.

We’ve held a number of guided tours since the ACCA project completed too, all who we’ve taken round have uttered an audible gasp on entering the new auditorium and most are fascinated to hear of the building’s transformation.

We also held RHP’s 40th anniversary celebrations at ACCA and were honoured to have Michael Attenborough present who delivered an excellent summary of the project.

The team at ACCA are devoted and very hardworking, and it’s thanks to them that the building is now a success. It’s extremely rewarding to see one of Brighton’s best loved theatres once again being used and enjoyed as it was originally intended and it is very gratifying to think that we’ve had a hand in bringing it back to life.

DISCO! An Interdisciplinary Conference

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From its origins as a New York City subculture amongst gay, black and Latino/Latina practitioners, and its transition into the mainstream, to its subsequent lives across international scenes, disco poses pivotal questions about the entanglements of art, industry, identity, and community. Disco is the site of many significant and lasting debates in popular culture, including those surrounding the figures of the DJ and the diva, the status and significance of dancing bodies, the tension between what is authentic and what is synthetic, and the historic maligning of society’s others.

Join us for a major interdisciplinary international conference at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on 21-23 June, which aims to examine and expand these debates. We hope to explore disco as a tentacular phenomenon that reaches across multiple sites of production and consumption, from music and dance to fashion and film.

Keynote presentations by:

Melissa Blanco Borelli (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Tim Lawrence (University of East London)

SYLVESTOR: Artist, Icon, Diva

Featuring artist David McAlmont

Organised by the University of Sussex.

The Attenborough Archive is now open to the public

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Thousands of never-before-seen photographs, letters, script notes and more spanning Richard Attenborough’s extraordinary life and career are now at the fingertips of students, researchers and the public, thanks to a new archival collection now open.

The Attenborough Archive has been accepted in lieu by HM Government from the Attenborough family and allocated to the University of Sussex, in recognition of Lord Attenborough’s 40-year association with the University, which culminated in 10 years as its Chancellor until 2008.

After 18 months of painstaking cataloguing the collection is now available for the public to explore at The Keep, the purpose-built archive near to the University campus and just along the road from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

The collection features never-before-seen material covering some of his most famous work; location plans and call sheets for Oh What A Lovely War!, famously filmed in and around Brighton during the 1960s; early sketches for the character of John Hammond who he played in Steven Spielberg’s iconic featureJurassic Park; and Gandhi, the film that scooped 8 Academy Awards®, including Best Director for Attenborough.

The Gandhi material includes annotated scripts and the call-sheet for the film’s historic funeral scene, which, with nearly 350,000 extras listed, is still the most populous scene ever committed to celluloid.

There is also a wealth of more personal material, including family photographs and letters from his brother Sir David Attenborough; general correspondence with everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the Queen; and papers documenting his tireless charity efforts working on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy UK and campaigning for the erection of the statue to Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.

Richard Attenborough’s son, theatre director Michael Attenborough, ACCA’s patron, said: “This massive archive reflects my father’s breathtakingly active life; not only as a movie actor and director, but also as an indefatigable fighter for human rights and social justice, through the many causes, political and charitable, he believed in so passionately.

“The range of people he knew intimately - from Noel Coward to Nelson Mandela, from Laurence Olivier to Princess Diana - is unprecedented. This archive now offers the world a real insight into this completely unique life.”

For more information and to register as a reader to view material, please click here.

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