Author: Suse Coon

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Monday, April 22nd, 2013 at 4:30 pm
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Edinburgh Festival’s New Director is Announced

Edinburgh Festival Council today announced the appointment of Irish born Fergus Linehan as the Director Designate of the Edinburgh International Festival.

As a Festival Director, Fergus Linehan has already led the growth and development of two major international festivals in Australia (Sydney Festival) and his native Ireland (Dublin Theatre Festival).  Fergus began his career in the theatre in Dublin,  founding the Pigsback Theatre Company before becoming general manager of the Tivoli Theatre. He moved to the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1994, first as general manager and deputy director then, for five years from 1999, chief executive and artistic director. Between then and 2004, he went on to direct the city’s major arts event, the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Linehan took over at the helm of the Sydney Festival in 2004, serving a five-year term. Under his leadership the festival’s annual turnover grew from AUS$12 million to in excess of AUS$20 million, achieved through significant growth in ticket sales, commercial sponsorship and government funding.

He then took over as head of music at Sydney Opera House, for whom he is still acts as an international programming consultant, bringing a wide range of music, traditional, contemporary and experimental to the iconic Opera House. He is currently the director of Warehouse Arts, a company that provides artistic programme and planning services to a range of arts organisations around the world, including Sydney Opera House,  West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong and Dublin City Council.  In addition he is Festival Director of Vivid LIVE, an annual event, which celebrates ambition and innovation in popular music and digital art.

Fergus said, ‘I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next Director of the Edinburgh International Festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all. In particular I look forward to moving to Edinburgh to serve the devoted festival-goers and artists from Scotland and around the world, who have grown to love this wonderful institution over the past seven decades. Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the preeminent Festival city.  It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for the 2015 and future Festivals.’

Both his immediate predecessors, Jonathan Mills and Sir Brian McMaster, leant towards classical music and opera and Fergus’s five year appointment may be seen to be more than a nod towards something a bit different. The post begins on a part time basis on 1 May 2013 to allow time to plan for his first Festival in 2015, becoming full time from 1 October 2014. He is, however, currently in Australia where his partner is expecting their first child in May, but will be moving to Edinburgh in due course.

Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Chair of the Edinburgh International Festival Society said, “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the City. Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city, he is familiar with what the city  can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.’

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said ” I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.”

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