Adelaide Festival appoints new artistic director

Ruth Mackenzie to helm the Adelaide Festival.

Adelaide Festival has appointed Ruth Mackenzie to replace long time co-directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield.

Mackenzie’s previous roles include director of the Holland Festival and Manchester International Festival, and head of the cultural program for the 2012 London Olympics.

She is currently a consultant artistic director for the Mayor of London.

“I have always admired enormously the Adelaide Festival, it has been brilliant at introducing outstanding talent who have grown into world stars,” she told the ABC.

“There is no better place to show how vital, innovative, inspiring, collaborative and responsible the arts can be than in Adelaide.”

Festival chair Judy Potter said Mackenzie was the first overseas director since David Sefton, who left in 2015.

“Ruth is a powerhouse of the British and European festival and arts communities and we are very excited about what she will bring to Adelaide,” she said.

“She is not afraid to push the boundaries in reaching out to a younger demographic, while appealing to our existing, fiercely loyal audience.”

Healy and Armfield are leaving the festival in good shape having overseen a massive uptick in donations.

“When we started the donations to the Adelaide Festival were about $55,000 a year, now they’re $2 million,” Healy said.

“That comes from supporters all across the country and all across the world.

“We feel really confident that we are gifting it to the new artistic and executive leadership.”

Mackenzie will oversee the 2023 Adelaide Festival, before programming the 2024, 2025 and 2026 events.