Salisbury Festival announces new director

Toby Smith

Toby Smith

Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival has appointed Toby Smith to be its new director from August 2013. Toby joins from the Royal Northern College of Music and will be engaged in a handover process over the coming months before taking on the role full time in August. Maria Bota completes her term as Festival Director at the same time.

As Director of Performance and Programming for the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Toby has directed an artistic programme of some 500 events each year, spanning four venues and including orchestral series and opera productions, jazz, world and folk music, annual festivals, and site-specific productions created for Manchester venues such as Imperial War Museum North, Victoria Baths and Manchester Piccadilly Station.

Before his RNCM role, Toby founded the Early Opera Company with Music Director Christian Curnyn, producing operas in New York and London; He subsequently joined the artistic planning department of the Barbican Centre in London, before moving to Cheltenham Festivals, where he worked alongside Artistic Directors Michael Berkeley, Martyn Brabbins and Tony Dudley-Evans, the 2001 Music Festival programme winning the Royal Philharmonic Society’s award for Best Festival and Concert Series.

He has completed work exchanges with the Sydney Festival and the Helsinki Festival and served on the Executive Committee of the European Festivals Association. He currently acts as an advisor to the Performing Rights Society Foundation.

Laura Phillips, Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival chair, said “I can do no better than to share with you the quote from Professor Merrick, RNCM Principal: “Under Toby’s artistic leadership the RNCM’s performance programme has grown from strength to strength, and is now recognised nationally and internationally as one of the most forward-looking and exciting arts centres in the UK. This is due in no small part to his endless creative energy and imagination, together feeding an artistic programme valued by audiences across Manchester and far beyond.”

Toby says: “It is a great honour to be appointed Director of Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival from 2014. The deep roots of history this beautiful corner of England enjoys are rich in stimuli, from prehistoric monuments to beautiful water meadows, military garrisons to a towering cathedral; yet, above all else, what I have always admired about this festival is how it looks way beyond its immediate horizons, and I am looking forward to continuing a long Salisbury tradition of making unique things happen here over the next four years.”

Toby succeeds Maria Bota who ends her distinguished run as Festival Director. Laura Phillips said “Maria has forged new links across the county and despite working in a challenging economic climate she has expanded and raised the profile of the Festival, especially with the outdoor work, culminating in the spectacular Fire Garden at Stonehenge to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad. She leaves with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”