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Venue Profile: Attenborough Arts Centre

In the run up to Handmade 2019 we’re looking at the venues that are making up the festival this year. This time we look at Attenborough Arts Centre.

Who are you and what do you do?

We’re the Attenborough Arts Centre, a friendly, accessible and inclusive venue and contemporary art gallery based at the University of Leicester. We play host to a range of live events, theatre, music and comedy. Our gallery offers a chance to see some of the most thought-provoking and interesting contemporary art in the region. We also have a shop and a café, and offer activities for children and families, creative courses, workshops and more – there’s something for everyone!

When did you open and what’s the story behind the venue opening?

We were officially opened in 1997 by Diana, Princess of Wales as The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts. The venue was created from a campaign championed and led by our namesake Lord Richard Attenborough, who was actively involved in arts and disability in the UK. The Attenborough’s have a strong connection to Leicester and the University – their father was principal from 1931 – 1951 and the brothers used to live on campus. In 2015 our new gallery space was opened by David Attenborough, and we renamed as the Attenborough Arts Centre. With his son Michael as our current patron,  we continue to follow Richard’s vision and his legacy, striving to include everyone in great art, culture and learning.

What are some memorable gigs you’ve had through the years?

We’ve had a lot of great acts through our doors over the years, but recent highlights include Nottingham based duo Rattle performing in our gallery space in response to our exhibition ‘Leicester; Memories of Industry’, and this February British composer, pianist and violinist Poppy Ackroyd performed in our theatre. Most recently with our popular Gallery Late events we have hosted the best of local talent, including Mythm, Sally Hossack, Elysian, LION/S, Daidono, Aaron Dudfield & Oscar Prince

What are you most looking forward to at Handmade this year?

We’re looking forward to seeing how the festival has evolved over the years, and to welcoming people to our venue.

Why do you think Handmade is important for Leicester?

We love that it gives people the opportunity to explore the city and visit different venues, and showcases the range of amazing talent the city has to offer across a range of disciplines.

What do you think is great about Leicester’s arts community?

Leicester’s arts community has a great mix of traditional arts institutions and artist run spaces. We love seeing the diverse range of exhibitions, theatre and music that they produce – there’s something for everyone. Being surrounded by such creative talent is always inspiring.

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