THE figurehead of the Edinburgh International Festival is to stay in the role for an extra three years, organisers have revealed.
Fergus Linehan will be at the helm unil at least 2022 - the event’s 75th anniversary - after being offered an extention on his contract.
The Irishman, a former artistic director of the Sydney Festival and head of music at Sydney Opera House, was appointed director for five festivals, from 2015-2019, in the spring of 2013.
However the festival’s board of trustees has reached agreement with Mr Linehan to stay on for at least another three festivals after steady growth at the box office since he replaced Sir Jonathan Mills.
A record £4.3 million was generated in ticket sales during the recent 70th anniversary season.
Mr Linehan said: “I’m very grateful to the board for giving me the opportunity to lead this extraordinary institution for a further three years.
“The commitment and creativity of the festival team has made the past three years the most professionally exhilarating period of my career.
‘We have tried, over this time, to broaden the festival’s appeal while safeguarding our commitment to quality and virtuosity.
“Over the next five years we look forward to developing new initiatives that will support the continued growth and development of this remarkable event.
“I’d like to thank our stakeholders, donors, fellow festivals and, most particularly, the people of Edinburgh for their ongoing support and enthusiasm.”
Niall Lothian, chairman of the EIF board of trustees, said: “We’re delighted that Fergus has accepted the board’s invitation to extend his contract as festival director to 2022.
“His first three festivals revealed his in-depth knowledge of all cultural genres and his extensive contact book of artists and performers.
“Future festivals will, I’m sure, continue to reveal his creativity and innovation.”
Mr Linehan's tenure has seen the EIF stage a series of spectacular free opening events as well as embace contemporary music acts like Young Fathers, King Creosote, Franz Ferdinand, Jarvis Cocker, Mogwai and PJ Harvey.
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation.
“In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations 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.
“Fergus has brought great success to recent Festivals and his programmes have been dynamic and diverse. I wish him every success in the role for the next five years.”
Donald Wilson, culture leader at Edinburgh City Council, said: “During his tenure as director, Fergus Linehan has steered the Edinburgh International Festival through a spectacular 70th anniversary programme.
“His belief that culture and the arts should bring people and communities together has been demonstrated by the Festival’s successful collaboration with Castlebrae Community High School, and his commitment to bring the Festival outdoors.
“Who can forget \the Harmonium Project as it lit up the whole exterior of the Usher Hall, or Edinburgh Castle and St Andrew Square illuminated with great projections?
“As the festival’s principal funding partner, we hope to see these free public gatherings continue to celebrate the start of each Festival season, and for the world to continue to be drawn to Edinburgh to be enthralled under his programmes.”