12 January 2016

Sir Timothy O'Shea, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, is delighted to announce the appointment of Shona McCarthy as Chief Executive.

Shona was Chief Executive of the Culture Company, which was responsible for leading on Derry-Londonderry’s year as the inaugural UK City of Culture. She was Chief Executive at Imagine Belfast 2008, Chief Executive of Cinemagic, the international film festival for young people, and Director of the Foyle Film Festival. More recently she’s been working internationally as a freelance cultural consultant and from 2009 to 2011 she was Director of the British Council Northern Ireland. Shona was a recipient of a NESTA cultural leadership award and was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship for Innovation 2014. She will take up the post in early March.

The Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Sir Timothy O’Shea, said:

“I am delighted Shona will be joining the team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society; she brings with her an exceptional resume of experience in the cultural sector and is an experienced and successful chief executive.

“The Fringe Society’s role is to support and nurture the Fringe – the world’s largest and best arts festival – a festival which has seen continual growth for a number of years. In response to that, and under Kath Mainland’s leadership, the Fringe Society has expanded its services for both participants and audiences. As the Fringe approaches its 70th anniversary year, I have no doubt Shona will provide the vision and leadership to continue and further develop the work the Society does, supporting the Fringe’s reputation as a world leading arts festival.”

Shona McCarthy said of her appointment: “I am thrilled to be appointed Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, an organisation I have long admired. I have spent 25 years working in the cultural sector and have seen up close and personal the transformative power that art can have on people, on cities and on wellbeing. I passionately believe in personal and collective creativity as a force for good in a turbulent world.

“I have visited Edinburgh and the Fringe on many occasions and there is no better outlet for creative expression than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the greatest open access arts festival in the world, and I can’t wait to work with and support all those who make up such a wonderful festival.

“Kath Mainland has done a terrific job and there is a brilliant team already in place, I look forward to joining them.”


Note to editors

Shona is currently Director of Shona McCarthy Consulting, founding Director of Culture Trust, Chairperson of Oh Yeah music centre in Belfast, and Walk the Plank in Manchester. She was awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship for Innovation 2014. She has 25 years’ experience in senior leadership positions.

From 2011 – 2014 she was Chief Executive of the Culture Company, leading on Derry-Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture, creating and delivering a world class, citywide cultural programme for 2013 and raising and managing a budget in excess of £20 million.

Previously she was Director of the British Council Northern Ireland leading a team of 40 to oversee international programmes of work across schools, arts and Higher Education to build positive international cultural relations.

Between 2002 and 2008 she was the Director of her own company, specialising in cultural collaborations. Prior to this she was Chief Executive of Imagine Belfast leading on a cultural strategy for the city and producing the Belfast bid to be European Capital of Culture 2008.

Shona also spent many years as Chief Executive of both Cinemagic and the Foyle Film Festival, and was Head of Exhibition at the Northern Ireland Film Council.

In 2007 she was the Northern Ireland recipient of a NESTA cultural leadership award which took her to live and work in India with the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Calcutta.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the organisation that underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was established in 1958, eleven years after the birth of the Fringe when the first performers turned up uninvited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe is an open access festival – any artist or company can take part regardless of their experience or success and the festival is not programmed or run by an artistic director or any selection body. As a registered charity, the Fringe Society exists to support all participants, industry professionals, media and audience members who attend the Fringe from all around the world, and to produce accurate and up-to-date information and ticketing for audiences, and to raise the profile of the festival as a whole.

The 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will run from 05 – 29 August
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