Manchester International Festival CEO hunt: Could you fill Poots’ boots in £100K job?

Manchester International Festival are on the hunt for a new leader with ‘energy’ and ‘imagination’ after their founding artistic director Alex Poots announced he was stepping down at the end of last year.

The team have placed a Guardian Jobs ad in the search for a new CEO and creative director to take the reins, and continue to showcase a vast array of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture.

Managing Director Christine Cort, who has been with the festival for its full 10 years, was Mr Poots’ first appointment, and she explained what kind of person MIF is looking for.

The job ad offers the successful candidate ‘over £100,000’ per annum to ‘create and deliver a biennial international Festival’.

She told MM: “We’re keeping an open mind. The brief, though long, is deliberately wide ranging and we are looking forward to meeting candidates with very broad experiences and abilities.

“It’s a big job and Alex is a hard act to follow. Whoever takes on the role will need energy and imagination above all.”

Mr Poots is leaving MIF to take up a role as Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of New York’s Culture Shed after this year’s festival.

Since its launch in 2007, the biennial event has specialised in delivering original, new work and one off events to its audiences.

MIF13 was a huge success, attracting more than 246,000 people to the likes of Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed Macbeth, and the participatory group show do it 2013, which took over Manchester Art Gallery with works by more than 100 artists, including Yoko Ono.

And it wasn’t just the city centre which danced to the festival beat. An industrial space in Salford was transformed into a Biospheric Project, demonstrating how urban growing and design can flourish in the unlikeliest of places.

MIF have said that filling Mr Poots’ shoes is a case of knowing it when they see it, but one thing is certain, ‘personality’ is key.

Ms Court added: “The style and personality of the new Artistic Director will have a huge impact on the Festival programme and character. It’s difficult to predict how the Festival will evolve before we appoint someone.

“But I’d hope and expect it would continue to be a truly international Festival with a uniquely Manchester spirit.”

Not only can people apply for the post, but MIF also have head hunters on the look-out for that distinguished individual who is intent on ‘delivering an exceptional festival every two years, and contributing to the development of a major new international arts venue in Manchester’.

MIF have repeatedly emphasised that there is no set vision as to who will assume this highly influential role and despite Mr Poots’ Scottish roots, there is no overwhelming desire to appoint another British CEO.

There is even a suggestion that the new boss could emerge from one of its numerous partner organisations, such as the Park Avenue Armory in New York.      

Having already featured the talents of Bjork and Blur’s Damon Albarn, the team at MIF are keen to continue its development.

The Blur frontman is returning to the folds of the festival this year with a new musical, Wonder.Land, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

The introduction of The Factory, a £78million theatre and arts venue, which will be built on the old Granada Studios site and is due to open by 2019, is hoped to continue the artistic gala’s unchartered ‘evolution’ under a new leader. 

“I think it’s hard to be prescriptive about the next phase of the Festival before the new Director is in place, who will work closely on the development of The Factory,” said Ms Court.

“Along with the evolution of MIF, I think that the establishment of this innovative new arts space will be the key task ahead of whoever is appointed to the role of CEO and Artistic Director.”

Described as the ‘most radical and important arts festival today’, by The New Yorker in 2013, the future looks bright for the Manchester International Festival. Now all it needs is a new leader.

MIF is running from 2 – 19 July 2015.

You can apply for the £100,000 position here.

Image courtesy of The World News, via YouTube, with thanks.

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