Fergus Linehan to lead Carriageworks as its next Chief Executive Officer

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, April 25, 2024

Fergus Linehan to lead Carriageworks as its next Chief Executive Officer
Fergus Linehan and Cass O’Connor at Carriageworks. Photo by Nic Walker.

SYDNEY.- Carriageworks today named respected international arts administrator Fergus Linehan as its next Chief Executive Officer. Fergus is known across the world for his success leading the Edinburgh International Festival, Sydney Festival, Vivid Live at the Sydney Opera House and the Dublin Theatre Festival.

He curated Carriageworks’ inaugural performance, ‘Zero Degrees’ by Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, in January 2007, when he led the Sydney Festival.“We are thrilled to have attracted such a respected international figure to lead Carriageworks into its next chapter,” Carriageworks chair, Cass O’Connor, said today.

“We were determined to appoint such an accomplished leader because of the scale of our ambition. Carriageworks has both history and potential at a time our arts and cultural sectors spark back to life. Importantly, new state and federal governments have similar ambitions to strengthen Australia’s creative industries,” she said.

Fergus said he was excited about the potential for Carriageworks to grow in a way that engages and serves the community.“In 2007 I stepped through the doors of Carriageworks as curator of the venue’s inaugural performance. The performance was a stunning convergency of cultures, art forms and perspectives that left me in awe. But it was the venue itself that left an indelible mark,” Fergus said.

“Here, on this site of culture, industry and activism, architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer had shaped one of the greatest performing arts facilities in the world. In a city that treasured its eastern harbour views, here was an urban space that optimistically faced west and towards the future.

“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve the local and wider Sydney communities, but I am also acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with it. Carriageworks sits on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, in a place of profound cultural and historical significance.

“I will do everything I can to contribute to this remarkable venue and the community it serves, alongside the passionate team at Carriageworks,” he said.

Cass paid tribute to Jonty Claypole MBE, a former Director of Arts for the BBC, who was persuaded to serve for a finite time as interim CEO during the search process.

“I would like to acknowledge Jonty Claypole’s outstanding leadership. We had worked with him in late 2022 before requesting that he join as Acting CEO early this year. He stepped out of other commitments at very short notice and provided thoughtful guidance and direction for the team,” Cass said.

“Jonty will continue to be in high demand across the sector, and we look forward to having a continuing association with him in the future,” she concluded.

Fergus, who was born in Ireland, returned to Sydney last year where he now lives with his wife Sophie and two children. He will join Carriageworks on 1 June 2023.


Fergus Linehan is an Irish arts administrator and impresario who has led celebrated cultural institutions in Sydney, Edinburgh, and Dublin. Fergus was Artistic Director and CEO of the Sydney Festival for the 2006 – 2009 editions, presenting projects such as the Maly Theatre’s ‘Uncle Vanya’, Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’, Kev Carmody’s ‘Cannot Buy My Soul’ and special events such as Festival First Night and Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ on Cockatoo Island. In 2007, he presented the dance work ‘Zero Degrees’, which was the first ever performance at the newly reimagined Carriageworks.

As curator of Vivid Live at the Sydney Opera House from 2012 – 2014, he presented iconic music figures such as Bobby Womack, Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, while celebrating those leading the music of our time, including Gurrumul, Janelle Monae and Sufjan Stevens. Most recently, he was Artistic Director and CEO of the Edinburgh International Festival from 2015 to 2022, where he oversaw the programming and organization of one of the world's most prestigious arts festivals. As well as presenting the world’s leading theatre, opera, orchestral and dance companies, he created special free events, developed long-term relationships with the city’s schools and moved festival performances outside of the city centre. In his final year at Edinburgh, Fergus presented a special season of Australian work, with contributions by William Barton, Gravity and Other Myths and Belvoir’s ‘Counting and Cracking’ by S.Shakthidharan.

Fergus began his career in Dublin where he worked in many of the city’s theatres before becoming Artistic Director and CEO of the Dublin Theatre Festival, a celebration of Irish playwriting and international theatre practice. He is widely respected in the arts community for his expertise in programming and curating impactful cultural events, and he has been recognized with numerous awards and honours for his contributions to the field including The Edinburgh Award, an Honorary Doctor of Literature from Queen Margaret University, the Irish Presidential Distinguished Award and the Sydney Music and Arts Awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Fergus returned to Sydney last year where he now lives with his wife Sophie and children Bella and Billy.

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