Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fergus Linehan appointed as new Edinburgh International Festival director

Fergus Linehan
Fergus Linehan takes over from Jonathan Mills on 1 October 2014

The new artistic director of the Edinburgh International festival has been appointed.

Fergus Linehan, former director of the Sydney International Festival and head of music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over from Jonathan Mills.

Mr Mills, who took over the role in 2006, will step down after next year's festival.

Mr Linehan, 43, takes up the post of director designate on 1 May to give him time to plan for the 2015 festival.

He will start work on a part-time basis before becoming the full-time director and chief executive on 1 October 2014.

Mr Linehan saw the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival grow from $12m to more than $20m through a growth in ticket sales, sponsorship and government funding.

He has also previously been the director of Dublin Theatre Festival in his native Ireland.

Jonathan Mills is the current Edinburgh International Festival director

The Edinburgh International Festival, which has been running since 1947, presents a rich programme of classical music, theatre, opera and dance in six major theatres and concert halls and a number of smaller venues.

All artists and companies appear at the invitation of the festival director, which is a major contrast with the Fringe which also takes place each August.

Mr Linehan told BBC Scotland: "I have worked in festivals for about 20 years now and this is the one that towers above them all."

He said he was very fortunate to have such a "long run-in" to his first festival as some parts of the programme, such as classical music, needed to be booked up to two years in advance.

The new director said he had lived in Edinburgh for a year in 2009 and had been to the festival for the past 20 years.

He said: "As an outsider I would consider myself to have a good knowledge of it, but you only really get a sense of it when you have been in a place for a few years."

Mr Linehan said his mother was an actress and his father was a writer so his original background was in the theatre.

He added: "I think where I have worked in festivals I have tried to respond to the city and respond to the provenance of the event in question and that's particularly true in Edinburgh.

"Until I have done that, it is premature to start to think about how one would shape a festival but within six to 12 months those ideas will really start to take hold."

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, the chairman 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."

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