MONTREAL — Don Shipley has been named director of the Dublin Theater Festival, replacing Fergus Linehan, who is leaving after this year’s event (Sept. 27-Oct. 9) to take over the Sydney Arts Festival in Australia.
Shipley was manager of performing arts at the Harbourfront Center in Toronto from 1988-2001. As part of his responsibilities there, he programmed the 1997 and 1999 World Stage Festivals.
While working at Harbourfront he also was artistic director of the Du Maurier Concert Stage, which created televised arts programming for the CBC and CTV networks. Previously, he was artistic director of the Grand Theater in London, Ontario; casting director for CBC drama; and director of workshops and artistic associate of the Stratford Festival.
Shipley takes up the Dublin post in late 2004.
Linehan has been director of the Dublin Fest, Europe’s oldest dedicated theater festival (founded in 1958), since 2000 and was deputy director to Tony O’Dalaigh from 1997-99.
A graduate of University College Dublin, he worked extensively in Irish theater management in the 1990s. Dublin native Linehan’s family is well-known in the Irish arts: His father is a former arts editor of the Irish Times, and his mother is a thesp and member of the Arts Council.
He has accepted a three-year contract as director-CEO of the Sydney Festival, which comprises dance, theater, visual arts, opera and music. The first Sydney Fest that will bear his programming stamp will be in January 2006.
Shipley’s move to Dublin could be something of an unofficial arts executive exchange between Dublin and Toronto. The news of his new posting was broken in Wednesday’s Toronto Globe & Mail by Michael Posner in his interview with the current artistic director of Dublin’s Abbey Theater, Ben Barnes.
Revealing, as has long been rumored in Ireland, that he hopes to continue his career in Toronto after finishing his Abbey contract in late 2005 (Variety, July 12-18), Barnes also let slip to Posner that Shipley was making the move to Dublin.