Fergus Linehan has been announced as the Edinburgh International Festival’s director designate, to become festival director and chief executive from October 2014. He will take up his post on a part-time basis from May this year to plan for his first festival in 2015.
Linehan is currently the director of Warehouse Arts, a London-based company providing artistic programming and planning services to arts organisations and government agencies worldwide. From 2010 to 2012 he was head of music at Sydney Opera House and is currently festival director of Vivid Lve at the opera house, an annual event celebrating ambition and innovation in popular music and digital art. He is also familiar with Edinburgh cultural life having worked as an artistic associate at the EIF in 2009.
Commenting on his new post, Linehan said he was ‘delighted and deeply honoured’ by the appointment. ‘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 pre-eminent 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.’
As a festival director, Linehan has led the growth and development of two major international festivals, the Sydney Festival in Australia and the Dublin Theatre Festival in his native Ireland. Between 2004 and 2009 he was chief executive and artistic director of the Sydney Festival, where he grew the annual turnover from AUS$12m (£8m) to in excess of AUS$20m (£13.5m). Linehan began his career in the Dublin Theatre where, as director, he commissioned work by Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel and Roddy Doyle.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and chair of the Edinburgh International Festival Society welcomed the ‘new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record’ which Linehan would bring to the city while Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said the appointment reinforces the EIF’s worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. ‘In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nationals across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries.’