Norfolk

William Galinsky new Norfolk and Norwich Festival boss

William Galinsky
Image caption William Galinsky wants to encourage ordinary people to get involved with performances

Norfolk and Norwich Festival's new artistic director has officially taken up his post, saying he wants it to be one of the world's top arts events.

William Galinsky, who was head of Cork Midsummer Festival, replaces Jonathan Holloway, who has gone to Perth International Arts Festival.

The 38-year-old's appointment was announced at the end of 2010.

"I think it is on the cusp of being one of the big international arts festivals," said Mr Galinsky.

Taking risks

"It's what I'd like to see it become. With the loyalty of the audience, the programme that's been built over the last few years, the investment from all of our stakeholders, the relationships that the festival has already and that I'm able to bring in addition, we'll certainly have a good go at it."

The 16-day annual event held each May is the UK's fourth biggest city arts festival and in 2010 it attracted its highest ever audience of 278,000 people.

The new arts chief wants to uphold the enviable crowd numbers while continuing to grow its reputation by encouraging people to risk watching genre-bending performances.

"'We have an audience who comes to see classical music and we have an audience interested in contemporary performance and the work we do in the streets," he said. "I'd love to mix that audience up more."

The Oxford graduate is well-versed in cutting-edge work, having taken charge of Cork Midsummer Festival in 2004 after working as a theatre director for organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Attracting international acts remains a key part of the festival offering and Mr Galinsky's vision, but he is just as keen to make ordinary people the stars of the show and translate the work he's been doing in Cork to Norfolk.

New home

While fleshing out his ambitions, Mr Galinsky and his author wife Eimear, together with their two dogs, are settling in to their city centre house and calling a place they had often visited home.

The couple have close friends in north Norfolk, but are just starting to appreciate its uniqueness, which Mr Galinsky said would guide his imagination.

"The East of England is so different to the rest of the UK - there's something quite perplexing about the flatness of it but I think that's also something really special," he said.

"I would love to see the festival engage with the landscape of Norfolk."

Coming back to England has excited the Leeds-born director and offers the 238-year-old festival a refresh.

"You're almost able to see your own country and your own culture with fresh eyes and that's very interesting," said Mr Galinsky.

"It's taking the temperature of where this community is at each year."

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival's full programme will be released in March 2011.

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