Obituary: Sandy Broughton

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The Independent Online
Alexandra Broughton, arts publicist: born London 5 February 1950; died New York 20 June 1993.

SANDY BROUGHTON introduced a much-needed touch of professionalism to the ICA as its new Press Officer in 1978, writes Adrian Jack.

At that time I had just started as guest director of the MusICA series of concerts. Unlike many in the business, Sandy seemed totally unthreatening; she was also untypical in being quietly spoken, extremely hard- working and, as I was to learn gradually, loyal and almost austerely principled. She told me that music was her blind or, rather, deaf spot; which might have been a ploy to win my trust but was actually true. Of course, that made me like her even better, and since we both believed in plain English, without jargon or hyperbole, she never interfered with my copy. She only complained, quite justifiably, about the dowdy photographs musicians sent in. Their sense of style has developed a bit since then.

On just one occasion she ventured a protest: one of my musicians was practising at the piano in the bar and how could I possibly hire someone who sounded so untrained? As it turned out, he became a cult and 11 years later, in the last conversation I had with Sandy on the line from New York, she proudly told me she had just been to one of his concerts there. She continued to identify with the work we had promoted, and when the Almeida Festival put on Gerald Barry's opera The Intelligence Park, which I had originally commissioned for the ICA, she was at the first night.

At the ICA Sandy had to publicise every art-form in its most challenging aspects. Her own real passion was theatre, although she also ran the children's cinema programme. She put her trust in the departmental directors if she respected them (and she had a great capacity for respect) and was discreet if she did not. But she came to seem like part of the institute itself, not only because she apparently spent most of her waking hours there, but also because she developed close professional friendships with the director at the time, Bill McAlister, and the first General Manager of his regime, Luke Randolph.

Sandy remained at the ICA for eight years, and such was the degree to which she identified with the place that I could hardly believe it when she told me she was leaving. In her subsequent career she continued to ring me for advice and refer people to me as if I knew the answer to every musical question. Her sense of commitment in professional life was matched by her care and concern in private and, being unselfcentred, she wanted friends of hers to be friends of each other. We shall all miss her soft and kindly influence.

(Photograph omitted)