Exhibitions, News

An Evening with Michael Attenborough: Celebrating 25 Years of Creativity

Michael Attenborough cutting cake with University of Leicester and Attenborough Arts Centre

Caption: Michael Attenborough with University of Leicester Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah, Attenborough Arts Centre Director Andrew Fletcher and Tutor Diana Hall. Photo credited to Stuart Hollis.

As part of our 25th celebrations, we kick-started an exciting program of yearlong events by hosting a joyous night with University of Leicester, where our patron Michael Attenborough discussed his family’s long history with the university and our centre.

On the night

The evening started with informal drinks in our centre’s café, where Michael answered questions around his father, his involvement with our centre, his storied history with the university and the theatre field as a whole.

From 7pm, all guests excitedly took their seats for an hour-long presentation from Michael about his strong family connection with the city, the University of Leicester and Attenborough Arts Centre. Representatives of the university included Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah as well as Head of School of Arts Dr Catherine Morley, who hosted the night. Our own Director Andrew Fletcher also introduced the evening, saying “Attenborough Arts Centre is for accessibility and inclusion in culture, creativity and learning and these have become so core to what we do”

After the introductions, a gleeful Michael began discussing his grandparents and how they founded the Attenborough’s link with the city of Leicester in 1932. His grandfather, Frederick, took the post of principal of the then University College Leicester and spent the next 20 years growing the school until it was an officially recognised university.

Michael recalled how art as a vehicle for inclusion and education stemmed from Frederick. Throughout his career, he used college funds to buy artwork that would inspire his students even if their work wasn’t based in the arts, as he recognised the importance of it within everyone’s lives. Frederick’s passion for the arts as a vehicle for education filtered down to his sons David and Richard, and the rest is history.

Michael Attenborough shows a photo of him and his father, Richard Attenborough

Caption: the moment Michael Attenborough came across the photo of him and his father Richard Attenborough. Photo credited to Stuart Hollis.

Throughout the presentation, Michael used a projector screen to show photos of his family such as the photo of our two patrons past and present.

The photos recalled one of many fascinating anecdotes of Attenborough family history, where Michael affectionately told the audience how our first patron became officially involved with the project to build a space for everyone:

“This building came about because Dad was commissioned by the government to write a report about facilities for the disabled art institutions, [with Dad saying], ‘we will build Britain’s first art centre specifically for the disabled people for them to enjoy as practitioners’ “

The End of an Evening, but the Start of Our Celebrations

Michael talking to our centre's director Andrew about the University of Leicester

Caption: Michael Attenborough talks to our Director Andrew. Photo credited to Stuart Hollis.

The end of the night saw Michael and attendees close a joyous start to this year’s program of events with drinks and canapés in the café. This was a night for Michael, University of Leicester and Attenborough Arts Centre.

To not miss even one moment of magic in our yearlong celebration, press here

Also, to watch the evening with Michael in full, click here.

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