The City of Edinburgh Council

11/19/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/19/2021 03:59

Edinburgh International Festival Director Fergus Linehan to receive the 2021 Edinburgh Award

Edinburgh International Festival Director Fergus Linehan has been chosen to receive the prestigious Edinburgh Award this year.

In recognition of his innovative contribution to the arts and Edinburgh's cultural heritage, Linehan will be presented with an engraved Loving Cup from the Lord Provost and have his handprints set in stone at the City Chambers later this year.

Linehan was appointed Festival Director of Edinburgh International Festival in 2014 and staged his first programme in August 2015, which he kicked off with Harmonium, a major free, outdoor sound and vision spectacle at the Usher Hall. The 2022 International Festival will be his last following an eight-year tenure.

Since taking on the role he has presented work by some of the world's leading theatre, orchestra and dance companies while expanding the festival's reach and bringing forward performances from artists and countries not previously represented at Edinburgh's festivals. In 2019 a programme featuring the likes of Kate Tempest, Jarvis Cocker and Neneh Cherry attracted more than 13,500 gig-goers to the Leith Theatre alone.

Linehan is also is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and co-chair of IMPACT Scotland, which is responsible for building Edinburgh's new concert hall. In 2020 he received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from Queen Margaret University.

He will become the 15th person to receive the award, following in the footsteps of last year's recipient Alexander McCall Smith (2020) as well as fellow festivals champions Richard Demarco (2013) and former Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Board Chair, Timothy O'Shea, along with renowned artist, Dame Elizabeth Blackadder (2012).

Lord Provost Frank Ross said:

I'm delighted to announce Fergus Linehan as the recipient of the 2021 Edinburgh Award. His innovative and ambitious approach has brought the Edinburgh International Festival to a whole new audience, welcoming a new and exciting range of performers to our vibrant city. He has also weathered an extremely challenging period for the arts industry, staging an ambitious programme this year, despite restrictions. I look forward to the festival returning, hopefully, on a larger scale next year as Mr Linehan makes his final contribution.

The Edinburgh Award lets the people who live here recognise those who have had a real impact on the city. Mr Linehan has worked tirelessly over the last seven years to stage a programme of festival events in all corners of the Capital, both engaging with the local community and reaching out to international partners to deliver a truly multi-cultural, successful event. He will be missed in the role, though I'm confident his legacy will live on, both through the festival and in receiving this highly deserved, prestigious award."

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival said,

I am deeply honoured to receive this award. Working for the Edinburgh International Festival has been the highlight of my professional life but even more important has been the opportunity it has given me and my family to live in this wonderful city. Edinburgh lives according to Patrick Geddes' mantra to 'think locally, act globally', it is a place that encourages you to be citizen of your city and a city of your world. I hope that the Festival has tried to mirror this.

This award is, of course, an acknowledgement of all those who make the Festival what it is. On behalf of myself and the whole festival family, thank you.

Additional information:

Nominations for the Edinburgh Award are invited annually from Edinburgh citizens and the awarding decision is taken by a judging panel chaired by the Lord Provost, with representatives from all political groups on the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

First launched in 2007, the Award is a way for Edinburgh residents to pay a lasting tribute to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Capital through their achievements.

Comments from nomination forms for Fergus Linehan:

  • "Fergus has provided the inspiring City of Edinburgh with inspiring speeches to local organisations, creative and innovative new forms of programming and extended our international connections throughout the world."
  • "Fergus will leave this jewel buffed and polished more brightly than ever so that Edinburgh and its International Festival can set out on the next quarter century with renewed confidence and ambition."
  • "The visual and sound spectacle at the Usher Hall and viewed from Festival Square created a huge impact and attracted around 20,000 cheering citizens."

About Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival is the world's leading performing arts festival, featuring the finest performers from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre.

Created in 1947 to celebrate the enduring human spirit, the International Festival serves as an annual cultural exchange, every August, for an international audience of over 400,000. The 2021 Festival pioneered the return to live performance in Scotland from 7-29 August 2021 with 170 performances from 988 artists of 25 nationalities.

For more information visit www.eif.co.uk.