Edinburgh International Festival chief to step down

Managing director Joanna Baker has been with the Edinburgh International Festival for 26 years.
Managing director Joanna Baker has been with the Edinburgh International Festival for 26 years.
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One of the key figures in Edinburgh’s festivals is to step down after more than quarter of a century of involvement with them.

Joanna Baker, managing director of the Edinburgh International Festival since 2006, has announced she will be leaving the event at the end of this year.

She joined the EIF in 1992 as marketing and public affairs director, following previous stints at Welsh National Opera, Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and the National Theatre in London.

Ms Baker also had a three-year spell as the first chair of umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh, has served on the boards of Scottish Ballet and the British Arts Festivals Association, and is the current chair of the National Youth Choir of Scotland.

Ms Baker has confirmed her departure months after it emerged that Fergus Linehan, the current EIF director, had agreed to sign a new contract extending his tenure with the event to 2022, which will mark its 75th anniversary.

Read more: Fergus Linehan to remain Edinburgh International Festival director until 2022

Fergus Linehan, the current EIF director, who has been in his post since 2015, said: “It is hard for all of us who know and love the International Festival to imagine it without Joanna.

“Although she has been with the organisation for many years, her enthusiasm, creativity and courage have never waned.

“She is a formidable impresario, an outstanding leader of people and a great friend.”

Ms Baker said: “Over my tenure I have had the pleasure and the privilege of working with three festival directors and an amazing group of colleagues, trustees, artists, supporters and funders.

“I will leave knowing that the festival is in robust health and in great shape for the future under the directorship of Fergus Linehan and an incredibly talented team.

“With nearly seven months to go before I step down, this is not the time for goodbyes or the moment for reflections on the past 26 years, other than to say that I am proud to have played a part in sustaining and developing this extraordinary organisation.”

Read more: Edinburgh International Festival: The Scotsman critics on the 2018 programme