It's exit stage left for arts festival director

Otago Festival of the Arts director Nicholas McBryde in the festival headquarters yesterday....
Otago Festival of the Arts director Nicholas McBryde in the festival headquarters yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Otago Festival of the Arts director Nicholas McBryde has announced his resignation.

"I'm hanging up my hat. Enough is enough and enough is now," he said yesterday.

"I've been doing it for 12 years and that's long enough for anybody. It's time for someone else to have a go and give it a fresh appeal and a new start."

Mr McBryde (53) was the founding director when the biennial festival was launched in 2000.

"This has been my baby and it's been a long journey. It's the best job I've ever had and the worst job I've ever had. But it's going to be a bit of a wrench to leave.

"I'm going to do a mature OE with my wife, Rosemary.

"We've got a year and a-half window and our children [Angus (20) and Brendan (18)] have given us the all-clear to go and have our little adventure."

The festival has doubled in size since it started, from a $500,000 budget in 2000 to a $1 million budget this year.

"There's a lot of stress and anxiety involved.

"It's a two-year cycle and you just do whatever it takes to make it happen. You start with a blank canvas and you've got 10 days to fill up with shows. Where do you start? That's quite scary."

A source of pride to Mr McBryde was that the festival had never run at a loss.

"I think that's pretty extraordinary. We've run five festivals and they've never run in a deficit situation.

"The audience has learned to trust what's in the festival and that's a sense of real satisfaction to me. It shows that what we've put on is what people enjoy and it works. The festival has a great reputation for being visually exciting, robust and financially secure.

"But the real sense of satisfaction, for me, is a house - an audience - coming out smiling."

Mr McBryde's swansong will be the 2010 festival, which runs from October 8 to 17. The programme will be launched on August 13.

"This year, there'll be 26 events doing 100 performances; the same as the first festival in 2000," he said.

"I'm going to finish this festival and run the cycle through till March. We'll go over to the UK in May or June and then come back to live in Dunedin in a couple of years. And then what? That's the tricky bit.

"But I arrived here in 1998 with no job and called myself an 'arts consultant' and look what's happened."

- nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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