A number of exciting developments have come to the fore as Leeds International Festival (LIF) makes plans for its return in 2019.

The festival is happy to announce Gemma Holsgrove as its new Festival Executive, just a month after receiving international acclaim for improving the image and vitality of city centres worldwide. The festival was presented with the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence at last month’s awards held in Texas, USA.

Leeds International Festival 2018 was described as “a shining example of excellent urban place management, delivering real value to the city and an exemplary response to a community challenge.”

LIF launched in 2017, and has brought innovation and inspiration to the city of Leeds each Spring since. This ambitious cultural festival combines music, moving image and technology to bring forth some of the most interesting, diverse and exciting voices from these industries, culminating in workshops, talks, premieres and exhibitions across the city.


The appointment for the role followed a competitive application process, but her previous experience made her the perfect candidate. Her employment history has centred around using the arts to inspire, motivate and positively impact people’s lives, whatever their background.

Gemma has worked extensively with veterans, pioneering the first regional pilot project bringing theatre to veterans, Armed Forces family members, Reservists and others with ties to the Armed Forces, engaging with wounded, injured and sick veterans, and those suffering with mental health or physical disabilities, to use theatre as a form of recovery. This hugely successful project has since been emulated in other UK cities.

Gemma also has experience of getting under the skin of cities and showcasing their best attributes, and in the last two years project managed “Winchester, The Royal City” for Hampshire Cultural Trust which celebrated and promoted this ancient city as a significant centre for the development of English culture. Gemma was also Creative Producer at York Mediale last year, pioneering a new 10-day international media art festival covering music, dance, theatre, symposia, contemporary art and more, which premiered commissions from leading York artists and provided a platform for emerging talent from the city.

Combining L19’s remits – to showcase Leeds’ diverse talents, attract national and international interest and bring some of the best brains across several industries into our city – Gemma’s extensive profile fitted the bill.

“I am so excited to get to work on Leeds International Festival 2019. Building on previous years’ exceptional line-ups, I plan to continue to push those boundaries, encouraging innovative and experimental thinking here in the city of Leeds, and beyond,”  Gemma said.

Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive of LeedsBID added: “The Leeds International Festival has become an established showcase event in the city. Using events to amplify and raise the profile of Leeds is key and Gemma’s expertise will enable and support this ambition.”

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.