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National Theatre Wales founder John McGrath named new head of Manchester International Festival

John McGrath, artistic director of Manchester Intentional Festival. Photo: Jorge Lizalde
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National Theatre Wales founder John McGrath has been named the new artistic director and chief executive of the Manchester International Festival.

He will replace MIF founder Alex Poots, who revealed in November last year he would step down after the 2015 festival.

McGrath – who is currently artistic director and chief executive of NTW – will take on the MIF role part-time from September, and full-time from January 2016. Prior to setting up NTW, McGrath was artistic director of Contact Theatre in Manchester.

Describing his time at NTW as a “joyful and deeply rewarding experience”, he added: “The appetite in Wales for theatrical innovation, for international collaboration and for the development of a vibrant, fresh arts scene has been wonderful to encounter.”

He thanked Arts Council of Wales and NTW’s board and staff for their support, and said he knew the company was “in very good hands as it looks ahead”.

ACW chair Dai Smith paid tribute to McGrath’s effort, explaining that during NTW’s inception many people believed “the obstacles to success were against us”.

He continued: “Yet now, in 2015 and beyond, we have in Wales a cultural institution rooted deep in our society and acclaimed worldwide for its imaginative practice and its artistic innovation.

“There are many reasons for this and many people to be thanked and praised, but as he steps down as its first artistic director, the name of John McGrath is pre-eminent. John gave everyone the confidence to be both what we are – a Welsh company with local purpose – and to release what we possess within us at our best: a vision and a reach that is truly global.”

NTW will appoint a new artistic director and chief executive later this year.

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