Linehan, who has previously run the Sydney Festival in Australia from 2004-2009 and the Dublin Festival from 1999-2004 (where he was general manager and deputy director from 1994-1999), will join as director designate on a part-time basis from May 1, 2013, to allow time to plan for his first festival in 2015. He will become Festival Director and Chief Executive of the Festival full time beginning Oct. 1, 2014.
He began his career in his native Ireland, producing many shows in Dublin and going on to direct the city's major arts event, the Dublin Theatre Festival. During that time he commissioned work by artists including Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel and Roddy Doyle as well as a new generation of Irish writers and choreographers. Under his subsequent leadership of the Sydney Festival, its annual turnover grew from aus$12 million to in excess of aus$20 million, achieved through significant growth in ticket sales, commercial sponsorship and government funding.
From 2010-2012, he was Head of Music at Sydney Opera House, where he refreshed the year-round music program spanning jazz, world music, pop, rock, electronic music, and visiting classical artists and orchestras.
He is currently Director of Warehouse Arts, a company that provides artistic program and planning services to a range of arts organizations around the world, including the Sydney Opera House where he is reviewing theatre and dance programming and Dublin City Council. In addition he is Festival Director of Vivid LIVE, an annual event which celebrates ambition and innovation in popular music and digital art. He currently divides his time between Europe and Australia.
In a press statement, he said, "I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next Director of the Edinburgh International Festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all. In particular I look forward to moving to Edinburgh to serve the devoted festival-goers and artists from Scotland and around the world, who have grown to love this wonderful institution over the past seven decades. Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the preeminent Festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for the 2015 and future Festivals."