Jane Mary Attenborough
30 September 1955
|Died||26 December 2004 (aged 49)|
Khao Lak Beach, Thailand
|Education||Lady Eleanor Holles School|
|Alma mater||University of Sussex|
|Occupation||Arts administrator • arts manager|
Jane Mary Attenborough (30 September 1955 – 26 December 2004) was an English arts administrator and arts manager. The eldest daughter of the actor and filmmaker Richard Attenborough and the actress Sheila Sim, she was first employed as overseas membership secretary at the Royal Academy of Dance. Attenborough later joined the Arts Council of Great Britain to its national touring programme in 1979 before moving to the Rambert Dance Company as dance liaison officer, expanding its education programme from schools activities to local community events.
At the University of Sussex she immersed herself in the life of the University being helped on her first few days by the School of Social Sciences Sponsorship Scheme through which she established her own social network separate to the Arts based network previously established by her elder brother Michael. Unusually for a first year she had her own car, a Hillman Imp, and helped new friends in the University Sailing Club transport people and dinghies to Weir Wood reservoir. Later in her time at Sussex she gravitated towards the Gardner Arts Centre and the Arts scene but was keen to avoid following in her brother's footsteps where possible. She was a positive, cheerful person, charming, popular and a good story teller. She delighted in telling friends about her wonderful "Uncle David" and about how her father had agreed to make A Bridge Too Far as the only way that he could obtain the funding for Gandhi a film that he spent a many years bringing to realisation.
She married Michael Holland, a Shipbroker in 1982 in Richmond. She had three children Samuel born 9th June 1984, Alice born 26th June 1987 and Lucy born 30th October 1989.
In 1985, she became administrator for the National Organisation for Dance and Mime (later Dance UK). Attenborough was later promoted its executive director, expanding the organisation's activities to help companies and choreographers to produce works by ignoring financial means and developed a programme to maintain the fitness of dancers. She worked as arts manager for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation from early 2000, promoting music education in schools in North East England and established links with four London theatres. In her final years Attenborough was manager of the experimental Musical Futures project.
She died together with her daughter Lucy and mother in law in the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami while holidaying in Thailand on 26th December 2004.
After Attenborough's death, Dance UK established the Jane Attenborough One Dance UK Industry Award in her name and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation awarded the Jane Attenborough Dance in Education Fellowship to assist a retiring dancer transition to community and education work from 2005 to 2009. A drama and music facility at Waterford Kamhlaba in Eswatini and a small studio at the University of Sussex were named after her.
Jane Mary Attenborough was born on 30 September 1955 in London. She was the eldest daughter of the actor and filmmaker Richard Attenborough and the actress Sheila Sim. Attenborough had two siblings: Michael and Charlotte. From her childhood, Attenborough was raised amongst people from the artistic world and she was focused on addressing a concern that many individuals lacked an opportunity to participate in the arts. She was educated at the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, before going on to enroll on a sociology course at the University of Sussex from 1973 to 1976.
Her first role of employment was as overseas membership secretary at the Royal Academy of Dance for a short period of time in 1977. Attenborough subsequently joined the Arts Council of Great Britain and was assigned to its national touring programme, where she assisted the consultant Jodi Myers. In 1979, she joined the Rambert Dance Company as dance liaison officer, where she expanded its education programme from traditional schools activities to encompass local community events, before she was promoted to press and public relations officer, a position which she held from 1980 to 1984. After leaving the world of employment to raise a family, Attenborough was persuaded to join the National Organisation for Dance and Mime (later Dance UK) as administrator in 1985, leading its transformation from a minor lobbying group to an organisation with significant authority and impact.
She later became Dance UK's executive director, using managerial experience and fundraising events to contribute to the promotion of the dance world and improve the conditions in which dancers had. An initiative in which Attenborough was instrumental in the development of was the Healthier Dancer Programme to help dancers maintain their fitness and reduce the risk of injury. She also helped to establish the Digital Dance Awards in 1987, which allowed companies and choreographers to produce works that they could not have created beyond their normal financial means. In early 2000, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation had a vacancy for a job as arts manager and Attenborough was its successful applicant. There she was involved in multiple projects that introduced "at risk" individuals to the arts and had an increasing involvement in the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's support for employment in prisons.
Furthermore, Attenborough was involved in the promotion of music education in schools in North East England and she led the Paul Hamlyn Performances at the Royal Opera House, introducing thousands of young people to opera. She additionally helped the foundation establish links with the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre and the Sage Gateshead. She undertook other projects to provide audiences with opportunities to get involved in the arts. In her final years Attenborough was manager of the experimental Musical Futures project, working with the civil servant Claus Moser and project leader David Price. On the morning of 26 December 2004, she and her family were holidaying on the Khao Lak Beach in Thailand when the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami struck their villa, killing Attenborough, her daughter Lucy and her mother-in-law. Her husband Michael Holland (whom she married in 1982) and two other children survived her. In March 2005, she was given a memorial service at Southwark Cathedral, attended by her family, friends and colleagues.
Attenbrough's brother Michael described her as "intense", Moser called her an individual who had a "generous spirit, integrity, wisdom and involvement", and Myers noted her "infectious sense of humour" and "great charm". She was able to get individuals from many backgrounds to relax, and combined "great enthusiasm and passion with impressive administrative skills and acute sensitivity to the needs of artists and audiences."
The Musical Features project of which she was manager expanded operations outside of the United Kingdom and one million young people took up the initiative. Dance UK established the Jane Attenborough One Dance UK Industry Award in recognition of "an individual working in dance who has made an outstanding contribution to the art form." From 2005 to 2009, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation honoured Attenborough with the two-year £50,000 Jane Attenborough Dance in Education Fellowship, which aimed "to enable a dance company to provide practical assistance, mentoring and training to help a dancer coming to the end of his or her career to make a successful transition to education and community work."
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation also funded the construction of a drama and music facility, the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Eswatini, which was opened by Lord & Lady Attenborough in November 2006 in honour of their eldest daughter. Her alma mater, the University of Sussex, named a small studio in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts after her in 2015.
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- Myers, Jodi (6 April 2005). "Jane Attenborough; Dynamic arts administrator". The Independent. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
- "Jane Attenborough; Lives in brief". The Times. 25 March 2005. p. 69. Retrieved 15 August 2019 – via Gale Academic OneFile.
- "Ten Years On : Remembering Jane Attenborough". Engaged Learning. 26 December 2014. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
- "Honouring individuals working in dance: Jane Attenborough Award". One Dance UK. Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
- "JADE Fellowships: About the initiative". Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
- "Latest Stories – Michael & Karen Attenborough Conduct Actor's Workshop". Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- "ACCA at University of Sussex". Space With Us. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.