Edinburgh International Festival reveals senior management shake-up for Nicola Benedetti era

Senior figures at the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) are to take on new roles and extra responsibilities as it enters a new era under incoming director Nicola Benedetti.

The violinist, who is expected to keep performing during her tenure at the EIF, will be working alongside a chief executive and a creative director.

The management overhaul, which the festival said was “primed to execute Nicky’s vision”, was revealed in the wake of her appointment in March.

Significant changes to the event’s “leadership team” have been set out in an official announcement from the festival, which said they would help it “refocus for the future” in the event’s 75th-anniversary year.

Nicola Benedetti will take over as director of the Edinburgh International Festival in October. Picture: Jessica Shurte

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    Its executive director, Francesca Hegyi, who was appointed in 2018, will now have the enhanced role as chief executive officer.

    The EIF’s current programme director Roy Luxford, who has worked for the festival since 2012, has been appointed the event’s first creative director.

    Ayrshire-born musician Benedetti is both the first Scot and the first woman to lead the event, which was instigated in the aftermath of the Second World War.

    The festival said the "expanded roles" for Ms Hegyi and Mr Luxford would allow the festival to place "renewed focus" on its artistic vision and purpose, while also ensuring the "smooth administration of day-to-day operations".

    Francesca Hegyi has been appointed chief executive officer of the Edinburgh International Festival under a management shake-up of the event.

    At the time, the festival said Ms Benedetti would continue to tour overseas, as well as run the Benedetti Foundation, her own music education charity.

    However, Ms Benedetti is likely to have fewer responsibilities than her predecessor, Fergus Linehan, who has been both the director and chief executive of the festival since 2015.

    The festival has also announced two other senior appointments – director of audiences Kate Carter, who previously worked at Scottish Ballet, and Katherine Planas, who has joined the EIF from the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.

    Ms Benedetti said: “Getting to know the team at the International Festival has been fantastic and I’m so looking forward to joining the organisation fully later this year.

    Nicola Benedetti will take over as director of the Edinburgh International Festival in October.

    "My colleagues in this new leadership team comprise a wealth of talent, experience and knowledge, and I am honoured to work alongside them to build on the festival’s incredible legacy.”

    Ms Hegyi said: “These changes build upon the incredible foundations of a festival that stands as a beacon for the finest performers in the world, a celebration that has captured the hearts and minds of Edinburgh and its visitors for 75 years.

    “We wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in now if it weren’t for the passion and hard work of all the leaders that have come before us, ardent advocates for the arts that made their mark and shaped this organisation.

    “I’m confident in a strong future for the festival as we look forward to working with this accomplished group, with a wealth of experience from across the world.”

    Keith Skeoch, chair of the festival board, said: "We're moving into an incredibly exciting phase for the festival.

    “I'm very pleased with the calibre of the new directors and I feel that we're building a team, and a structure that will be primed to execute Nicky's creative vision when she steps in as the artistic lead at the festival in October this year."