Sir Jonathan Mills: “Artistic festival directors are expected to take risks”

21 March 2014

In the run-up to the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Edinburgh from 3-10 April 2014, all presenters who will participate in the Atelier to exchange with 52 young artistic festival directors from all over the world will be introduced. One of them is Sir Jonathan Mills, Festival Director and Chief Executive of the Edinburgh International Festival, host of our Atelier. He previously participated in the Atelier VARNA 2009 and the Atelier IZMIR 2011.

“Festivals are one of the few remaining entities in which artistic directors are allowed and indeed expected to take risks. It is not however, simply about taking risks for the sake of it, it is about reinventing and reinvigorating even the most established festivals [...]. Those in charge of these precious entities have an enormous responsibility, as much of what we do reflects the imagination of the artists and encourages the imagination of the audience,” said Sir Jonathan Mills during the Atelier VARNA 2009.

Sir Jonathan Mills took up the post of Festival Director and Chief Executive of the Edinburgh International Festival in October 2006. Before this appointment, he was the Vice-Chancellor’s (Professorial) Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Director of the Alfred Deakin Lectures and an Artistic Advisor to the new Melbourne Recital Centre & Elisabeth Murdoch Hall.

One of Australia’s most experienced festival directors his previous posts have included Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Melbourne Federation Festival, the Melbourne Millennium Eve celebrations and the Brisbane Biennial International Music Festival.

As a composer he is regularly commissioned in Australia and increasingly in Europe and the UK. His composition Sandakan Threnody for solo tenor, choir and orchestra won the Prix Italia in 2005.

He is a visiting Professor at both Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier Universities, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Chair of the British Council’s Advisory Board. He was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queens’s Birthday Honours in 2011 and awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.

Nine renowned mentors from all over the world will guide the participants throughout the seven days of the Atelier EDINBURGH 2014 under the coordination of Hugo De Greef (former EFA Secretary General (2004-2008), Director European Capital of Culture Bruges 2002; Co-Founder Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium): Mark Ball (Artistic Director London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), UK), Bernard Faivre d’Arcier (former long-standing Director Avignon Festival, President Lyon Biennial, France), Heiner Goebbels (Artistic Director Ruhrtriennale, Germany), Nele Hertling (Vice President of the Academy of Arts Berlin, Germany), Grace Lang (Programme Director Hong Kong Festival, China), Joseph V. Melillo (Artistic Director Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), USA), Michal Merczyński (General Director Malta Festival Poznań, Poland), and Sir Jonathan Mills (Festival Director and Chief Executive Edinburgh International Festival, UK).

More information about the Atelier EDINBURGH 2014 can be found on the Atelier website.