New Fringe boss is 'safe pair of hands'
THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe will today name Kath Mainland as the first chief executive in the event's 62-year history.
Ms Mainland, currently the administrative director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, will take on the helm of the world's biggest arts festival months after it was taken to the brink of bankruptcy by crippling box-office failures and a slump in ticket sales.
Ms Mainland, a well-known figure on the Edinburgh festivals scene, is seen as an experienced manager and safe pair of hands.
She has previously worked for the Fringe and Unique Events, the long-time producers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations. She was a key player in restoring confidence in the book festival's ticketing systems last year, after failures in 2007.
One source close to the Fringe board said: "Everyone is extremely pleased, because she has already worked at the Fringe and worked at the big venues. She's extremely organised, she knows how to deal with performers, she knows how to run a budget she knows how to run things."
Ms Mainland was also previously general manager of Assembly, the biggest promoter on the Fringe. William Burdett-Coutts, director of Assembly, said: "I know Kath very well, as she worked for me for a long time, and I'm delighted for her if she's got the job.
"She is one of the best arts administrators in the country. She has huge knowledge of the Fringe and knows Edinburgh inside out."
A source at the city council, which is still in negotiations over funding for this year's Fringe, said: "Kath Mainland is extremely well known in arts circles in the city and we imagine that'll be a huge advantage as she gets to grips with the job. It's crucial the Fringe gets back on an even keel as soon as possible and we look forward to working closely with her in the next few months."
Ms Mainland has regularly topped The Scotsman's lists of favoured candidates for the post.
She faces restoring the Fringe's battered reputation among venues, companies and ticket-buyers, and coping with predictions that ticket sales could fall 10 per cent this year because of the economic downturn. Her salary is expected to be in the region of 55,000.
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