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Manchester International Festival artistic director Alex Poots to step down


Alex Poots, the founding artistic director of the Manchester International Festival (MIF), is to leave after next summer’s event.

The 46-year-old is to take up a post as the founding chief executive officer and artistic director of New York’s Culture Shed, an artistic and cultural innovation centre due to open in 2018.

Over the past 10 years, Poots has won acclaim for building the MIF into a globally recognised arts festival.

Alex Poots Alex Poots

Highlights of previous festivals have included premieres of Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi-Zheng’s Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West, and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth at the Halle St Peter’s Church in Ancoats.

Next year’s biennial festival, the first events for which were announced last week, will be the fifth.

He said: “I have had the best 10 years of my professional life at MIF.

“I have decided to move on while I’m still excited and engaged by this incredible job and remarkable city. We are working with a range of exceptional artists and innovators for MIF15 and I’m really looking forward to welcoming them and our audiences to Manchester in July.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester Council, said Poots had done a “remarkable job”. He added: “I’m sure MIF 2015 will be better than ever and know that when Alex does hand over the reins he will leave an organisation in great shape. Manchester has forged strong cultural links with New York and doubtless these will continue to flourish, not least once Alex takes up his new position.”

Tom Bloxham, chair of the MIF board, added: “The festival and the city are grateful to Alex for his exceptional work over the last decade, building MIF into one of the world’s great festivals.”

A successor will be appointed early next year.

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