Edinburgh International Festival director Fergus Linehan will be honored by the city as he bows out

Fergus Linehan has been named the next recipient of the prestigious Edinburgh Award ahead of his farewell season in August, which will coincide with the event’s 75th anniversary.

It will follow in the footsteps of authors JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin, artist Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, and sports heroes Doddie Weir, Ken Buchanan and Sir Chris Hoy.

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The honor was announced months after it was confirmed that Mr Linehan, who was appointed in 2013, would leave at the end of his current contract.

Fergus Linehan will step down as director of the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

A global recruitment process for his replacement is underway.

The Edinburgh Prize was established in 2007 to recognize an ‘outstanding person’ who has had a positive impact on the city and gained national and international recognition for the city.

Born in Dublin, Mr Linehan made a name for himself as director of the city’s theater festival.

He then moved to Australia, becoming Managing Director and Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival, then Director of Music at the Sydney Opera House.

Mr Linehan, who scheduled his first Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) in 2015, oversaw the expansion of the event to encompass rock, pop, electronic, indie and folk music, scheduled shows at the Leith Theater for the first time in decades and prompted large-scale free outdoor opening events.

EIF returned from a Covid-enforced hiatus this summer with a program of shows largely staged at pop-up outdoor venues.

Mr Linehan is also co-chairman of Impact Scotland, the charitable trust leading plans to create Edinburgh’s first new purpose-built concert hall in over a century.

Frank Ross, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, said: “Fergus Linehan’s innovative and ambitious approach has brought the Edinburgh International Festival to a whole new audience, welcoming an exciting new range of performers to our dynamic city.

“He has also come through an extremely difficult time for the arts industry, staging an ambitious program this year, despite the restrictions.

“The Edinburgh Prize allows people who live here to recognize those who have had a real impact on the city.

“Mr. Linehan has worked tirelessly to organize a program of festival events in every corner of the city, both engaging with the local community and reaching out to international partners to deliver a truly multicultural and successful.

“He will be missed in this role, although I am confident his legacy will live on, both during the festival and as he receives this highly-deserved prestigious award.”

Mr. Linehan said, “I am deeply honored to receive this award.

“Working for the Edinburgh International Festival has been the highlight of my professional life, but even more important is the opportunity it has given me and my family to live in this wonderful city.

“Edinburgh lives by Patrick Geddes’ mantra of ‘think locally, act globally’. It’s a place that encourages you to be a citizen of your city and a city of your world, I hope the festival has tried to reflect that.

“This award is, of course, a recognition of all those who make the festival what it is. On my behalf and on behalf of the entire festival family, thank you.”

Darcy J. Skinner