Makhanda – The National Arts Festival has announced that its long-serving Chief Executive Officer, Tony Lankester, will be stepping down from the position later this year after more than a decade at the helm of the country's leading, and one of the continent's most significant, arts festival.
He is set to take up an appointment in the UK from October.
Making the announcement, Festival Chair Ayanda Mjekula thanked Lankester for his contribution to the Festival since his appointment in 2007.
Ayanda said: "Tony has certainly been a revelation and has set a high standard that will be extremely difficult to rival, but which we have an obligation to maintain. His leadership has been inspirational and produced the best from all those who worked with him. He occupied the CEO position for just over a quarter of the existence of this Festival. This period heralded a time of invigorating growth for the Festival Mjekula said in part."
In a statement to the press, Tony said: "This has been the most incredible 12 years of my adult life, and I am extraordinarily grateful to the Festival team, the artists and audiences who have made it all so worthwhile,".
He added: "Steering this ship has been a privilege and has resulted in a ton of memories, moments, friendships and learning experiences I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. But I feel it's the right time to move on with my career and to give the Festival space to bring in some new energy and ideas."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE FESTIVAL AFTER THE CEO STEPPING DOWN:
Mjekula mapped out the management arrangements for the next few months: "We've recently appointed Nobesuthu Rayi as the Festival's Executive Producer, and we're currently recruiting for an Artistic Director. Once that process is finalised, and with the continued service of Brett Bailey as Artistic Committee Chair, the artistic team will be complete and can focus on the programme for the 2020 festival.
"To oversee the business side of the company, and to manage a smooth handover from Tony, we're drawing on the expertise of our Board and putting together a transition management team. The core operations team consists of very experienced, long-serving members of staff and Tony will continue serving, on a consultancy basis, after his departure through until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition," he said.