Manchester International Festival's Alex Poots to leave in 2015

Alex Poots
Image caption Poots said he had decided to leave "while I'm still excited and engaged with this incredible job"

The founding artistic director of Manchester International Festival (MIF) is to leave after next year's event.

Alex Poots, who has been in post since 2005, is to take a similar role at New York's new cultural innovation centre, Culture Shed.

He said being involved in presenting original works for the festival had been "the best 10 years of my professional life".

MIF chairman Tom Bloxham said Poots's work had been "exceptional".

"We are so proud and pleased for Alex; New York will be lucky to have him," he said.

The first MIF took place in 2007 and was preceded by three new works - a debut concert by the animated band Gorillaz, a premiere of a work by composer Ennio Morricone and an installation by Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen.

Image copyright johan persson/Carsten Windhorst
Image caption Poots has overseen premieres from Sir Kenneth Branagh, Björk, Damon Albarn and many more

The biennial event has also seen the first live performances of Rufus Wainwright's opera Prima Donna, Björk's Biophilia album, Sir Kenneth Branagh's take on Macbeth, Damon Albarn's stage show Monkey: Journey To The West and Victoria Wood's play That Day We Sang.

Poots said he had decided to leave "while I'm still excited and engaged with this incredible job and remarkable city".

The leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said Poots had done "a remarkable job in establishing MIF as a significant player in the global arts scene".

"I know that when Alex does hand over the reins, he will leave an organisation in great shape."

The fifth MIF - being held in July 2015 - will feature an augmented reality show fronted by Professor Brian Cox, a ballet soundtracked by musician Jamie xx and a family show telling the life story of children's TV favourite Mr Tumble.

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