ALEX POOTS BIOGRAPHY
Alex Poots is the CEO & Artistic Director of Culture Shed, effective September 2015. Alex is currently the founding CEO & Artistic Director of the Manchester International Festival (MIF) and the Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory.
As founding CEO & Artistic Director, Alex conceived of and established the Manchester International Festival (MIF) in 2005, the world’s first commissioning festival of original, new work and special events. This biennial three-week festival was launched in 2007 as an artist-led event, presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture. MIF now has a $19 million festival budget, $4.5 million in private sector sponsorship (the largest amount for a UK festival), and a $50 million economic impact for the city. More than 246,000 people attended MIF in 2013; that year, The New Yorker called MIF “probably the most radical and important arts festival today.”
MIF artistic highlights include Steve McQueen’s Queen and Country; Group show Il Tempo del Postino, including works by Carsten Höller, Tacita Dean and Matthew Barney; Kanye West; Punchdrunk and Adam Curtis’ It Felt Like A Kiss; Kraftwerk’s 3D production + new work by Steve Reich; Zaha Hadid’s temporary concert hall for JS Bach’s solo works; Carlos Acosta - ballet works; The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, with Robert Wilson, Marina, Antony Hegarty and Willem Dafoe; the group show 11 Rooms, featuring artists such as John Baldessari, Cao Fei, Roman Ondák and Tino Sehgal; the world premiere of Björk’s new work, Biophilia, Abida Parveen and Sir John Tavener; Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth.
Alongside his work at MIF, Alex was appointed Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory in 2011, with a commitment to commissioning and presenting ambitious work specially conceived for this unique New York landmark. Highlights from his first two seasons include Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Oktophonie in a new setting by Rirkrit Tiravanija; the world première of Paul McCarthy’s White Snow; the launch of a new recital room featuring artists such as Christian Gerhaher and Igor Levitt; The xx new staged concert.
Alex’s roles at the Armory and MIF have facilitated a co-commissioning partnership between these organizations, creating new work such as Massive Attack v Adam Curtis, and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth. Concurrently, Alex was invited by the BBC’s Director General in 2014 to be their External Arts Advisor with a specific remit to develop new commissions for BBC Arts and co-commissions with MIF.
In 2010, Alex acted as a part-time Artistic Adviser to the London 2012 Olympic Games cultural festival. Works co-commissioned for the London 2012 Festival and MIF included Rufus Norris and Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee, and the children’s extravaganza Music Boxes. Other commissions included the UK-wide tour of Africa Express with an array of special guests, and Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun.
In 2003, he joined English National Opera (ENO) as Director of Contemporary Arts, commissioning events such as Voices of Central Asia and ENO’s performance of Die Walküre (Act III) on Glastonbury Festival’s main stage.
Prior to this, Alex established and ran his own programming and producing company from 1996-2003, creating festivals, artistic seasons, and series for a number of arts organizations in London, including co-creating and programming Tate Modern & Tate Britain’s first live event series, conceiving of and programming BBC’s Somerset House Series, and co-creating and programming for London’s Barbican.