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Unusual Rigging's Alan Jacobi LVO

Unusual Rigging\'s Alan Jacobi LVO

UK – It is with great sadness that Unusual Rigging announces that Alan Jacobi LVO, founder and managing director, passed away peacefully at home on 13th April following a long illness, aged 67.

Director and Alan’s son, Tom Harper said: “Alan, AJ or the ‘Old Man’ as we all knew him was adored and respected by so many – family, colleagues, clients and the live entertainment industry as a whole. His mark upon the industry was massive, through his charisma and can-do attitude, his extraordinary work ethic, occasional bloody mindedness and an ability to solve any problems that arose, he took Unusual Rigging to where it is today – leading the field internationally in entertainment rigging and engineering."

AJ began his career at the Old Vic theatre where he learnt the basics about technical theatre. A few years later, he was working in the lighting department of the National Theatre, under the directorship of Lord Olivier, and assisted in the theatre’s subsequent move to its current home on the South Bank. He continued to build his comprehensive technical knowledge of show production and toured the world as a freelance production electrician with theatre shows, music and concert production.

Forming Unusual Rigging in 1983, he expanded the company in 1990 to incorporate the production of large-scale national and international events.

In 2018, AJ was voted by his peers to receive the Gottelier Award in recognition of his work towards raising the profile and professionalism of the rigging industry. On receiving the award, he said: "I am so very honoured … to know how much support I have from industry peers, friends and colleagues. They not only voted me the winner of this year's award but have been a source of support over the years as we strive to give riggers the credit and professional respect they deserve."

AJ long championed the need for training and education in the sector and was a driving force behind the National Rigging Certificate (NRC) accreditation scheme since its inception in 2005. He was awarded the LVO in a special honours list drawn up by the Queen for his work on the production and co-ordination of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Tributes have been pouring in across social media since news of Alan's death broke on Monday. Tom commented: "Speaking on behalf of AJ's family and the Unusual team, we have been completely overwhelmed by the love and admiration that those who worked with him have been keen to share over the past few days. AJ undoubtedly left a huge impression on everyone he ever met. Although a larger than life character, he would have been stunned and deeply touched by the abundance of love and support sent his way in the past few days.”

Lee Dennison, head of business development at White Light commented: "It’s not often we talk about heroes in a real way. Alan Jacobi (AJ) is a hero to so many of our industry and no doubt we will all have our own memories, stories and smiles when thinking about him. A strong-minded businessman, loving family man and the most caring and passionate of trustees to BackUp."

Meanwhile, Artichoke Trust published its own tribute to AJ on its website, stating: "As a company, Artichoke is acutely conscious of the enormous debt we owe this legend of the entertainment industry. Our success is his success. Without AJ, the British public would have had no access to some of the most memorable cultural events of the last 15 years. His legacy will live on as we try to echo his relentless certainty that anything an artist can dream up can be made to happen."

A private funeral will take place for AJ (as per Covid-19 guidelines) at the end of the month, with a memorial open to the industry to be held in 2021, with venue and date to be confirmed at a later date.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in AJ's memory should contribute to BackUp, the technical entertainment charity which provides financial support to industry technical professionals working in live events, theatre, TV and film, of which AJ was a patron.

16th April 2020

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