'Edinburgh is a benchmark - there is no better preparation for this job'

September 7, 2007

Festival director turned academic shares his Fringe benefits with Leeds Met's future events managers.

Arts festivals do not come any bigger than Edinburgh's, and Paul Gudgin's experience running it makes him the ideal person to help guide events managers of the future.

Professor Gudgin, 42, has joined Leeds Metropolitan University as visiting professor of festivals and events after eight years as director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, during which time it doubled in size. "Edinburgh is a benchmark for festivals because of its size and reputation, so from my point of view there has been no better preparation for going into this job," he said.

Since graduating from Surrey University, where he studied music, he has spent the past 20 years heavily involved in the UK festival industry. His first major post was as manager of the Bury St Edmunds Festival in 1989. He moved to Edinburgh in 1995 to take up the position as general manager of the city's Queen's Hall. Professor Gudgin became director of the Fringe in 1999, and by last year the event's ticket sales had reached a record 1.5 million.

Leeds Metropolitan University launched the first BA (Hons) in events management in 1996, and its UK Centre for Events Management was launched in 2000.

In addition to lecturing, Professor Gudgin will work with PhD students researching what is a fast-growing industry closely linked to tourism. He will continue to work in the industry, helping with a number of festival and events management projects.

"Anyone who has worked at a festival says that there's so much research they would like to do, particularly about international audiences, but that they don't have the time," he said.

"The number of festivals has grown in the past few years. For example, I was in Sydney, whose festival has exploded in terms of audience numbers over the past few years. Globally, festivals are big, big business."

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