Fergus Linehan has admitted his plans for future events have had to be put on ice due to uncertainty over the impact of Brexit.
The EIF director has revealed he has held off confirming major projects for the 2018 and 2019 events under a strategy to reduce the risk of the event running into financial trouble.
He said the EIF was being “very cautious” about its future due to concerns about the impact of an economic downturn hitting the UK in the next couple of years.
Mr Linehan said the festival wanted to avoid a scenario where it was forced to pull of out staging a production because it was unable to pay for it and had to prepare for a scenario where it had to “steer the ship very carefully through some very rocky waters.”
He cited uncertainty over future currency rates, the festival’s public funding and its ability to fill key posts as key areas of concern.
He said: “We’re exercising a lot of caution in relation to 2018 and 2019, so we’re not over-committed and then find ourselves in trouble. We could easily see a downturn in the economy next year and obviously in 2019 we will just be out of the EU.
“We’re being cautious in terms of really big projects. We’re leaving ourselves a lot of flexibility until we see what the lay of the land is. There could be a big project we say we’re definitely on for, but then find out our currency isn’t actually what we thought it would be or we’re not sure what the ticket-buying appetite is.
“If you have a very clear idea of what the outlook is you’re more likely to put down markers and say: ‘We’re in on this.’ If you don’t, you need to be able to retain the right to say: ‘We’re interesting in this, but we’re not going full in on it.’ Pulling out can get you into terrible trouble.
“We are being very cautious across. We can’t tell whether we are going to be in a very robust position where we can plan for growth or whether we’re going to steer the ship very carefully through some very rocky waters.”