Dublin-born festival director named as next recipient of prestigious Edinburgh Award

Dublin-born festival director named as next recipient of prestigious Edinburgh Award

EDINBURGH International Festival director Fergus Linehan has been named as the next recipient of the prestigious Edinburgh Award. 

The Dublin man is bowing out of one of the top arts jobs in the world, after being at the helm for seven years.

Linehan’s farewell season will be August 2022, the world-famous festival’s 75th anniversary.

As a recipient of the Edinburgh Award he will follow in the footsteps of authors JK Rowling and Ian Rankin, as well as sports personalities Doddie Weir, Ken Buchanan and Sir Chris Hoy.

The Edinburgh Award, which began in 2007, is designed to give recognition to an “outstanding individual” who makes a positive impact on the city, enhancing its reputation, and gaining further national and international recognition for the city.

Linehan took up the reins of director in 2014, 2015 being his first festival.

He is regarded as having enjoyed a very successful tenure, not least for steering the festival through the current very challenging times for the entertainment and culture sector.

The Edinburgh International Festival presented an ambitious programme against all the odds.

Linehan is considered to have been an innovative force for the festival, expanding the programming to include modern music genres, while at the same time retaining its core focus on classical music.

He has developed the festival’s reach, featuring artists from countries not previously included in Edinburgh’s roster.

Linehan has also been widely praised for introducing the free opening event.

Before arriving in Edinburgh, Fergus Linehan’s CV included being director of Dublin’s Theatre Festival.

He subsequently moved to Australia to become chief executive and artistic director of the Sydney Festival and then head of music at Sydney Opera House.

Currently, Linehan is also co-chair of Impact Scotland, the charitable trust spearheading plans to create a new concert hall in Edinburgh, the Dunard Centre.

This will be the first purpose-built theatre in the city for more than a century.

As well as being an arts destination for performers, audiences and the wider community, it will also provide a new home for the internationally acclaimed Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Linehan remains a driving force behind the project.

The Scotsman newspaper reports that Frank Ross, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, said: “Fergus Linehan’s innovative and ambitious approach has brought the Edinburgh International Festival to a whole new audience, welcoming a new and exciting range of performers to our vibrant city.”

Linehan has responded, saying, "This award is, of course, an acknowledgement of all those who make the festival what it is. On behalf of myself and the whole festival family, thank you.”