Kris Nelson Announced As New Artistic Director And Joint CEO Of Lift

Following an extensive international recruitment process, LIFT has today announced Kris Nelson as their new Artistic Director. Currently leading Dublin Fringe Festival, Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival, Kris will take up the role in earnest in April next year.

Kris will lead LIFT’s extensive year-round programme and world-renowned biennial festival, working with innovative international artists to continue to produce bold, ambitious and groundbreaking work for London and further afield. Kris will follow in the footsteps of previous LIFT Artistic Directors Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal, Angharad Wynne-Jones and most recently Mark Ball, whose departure to join Manchester International Festival was announced earlier this year. David Binder will lead next year’s LIFT 2018 Festival taking place throughout June as Guest Artistic Director with the full programme to be announced.

Director, Dramaturg and Artistic Director for over 10 years, Kris Nelson has worked extensively in multi-disciplinary arts in Canada, where he lived until 2013, and Dublin for the past four years, leading the fully curated Fringe Festival. After four years at the helm, Kris will leave the Dublin Fringe Festival at the end of the year, having curated over 300 shows during his time there.  Through his tenure Kris’ artistic vision has seen audience numbers grow from strength to strength with landmark productions including; brave large-scale outdoor work such as HARP | A River Cantata with Ulysses Opera Theatre on Samuel Beckett Bridge; Dublin Oldschool, How to Keep an AlienCharolais and Hope Hunt; the return of the Spiegeltent first to Dublin’s northside in 2015, then in a 16-day garden party in Merrion Square in 2016 marked by the co-production of RIOTby THISISPOPBABY, the first-ever all-Irish Spiegeltent show; world premieres  from Irish companies Brokentalkers, Junk Ensemble, Emily Aoibheann, Philip Connaughton, Aoife McAtamney and Ruairí Donovan and  theatrical adventures from Collapsing Horse, Louise White, Shaun Dunne and Company SJ. Kris introduced Dubliners to new works by leading international artists including Tanya Tagaq, Kim Noble, Claudia Dias, Hot Brown Honey, Matija Ferlin, Company 2 and Justin Vivian Bond.

Kris Nelson said “It’s an honour to be appointed LIFT’s next Artistic Director and Joint CEO. LIFT’s dedication to artistic ambition and commitment to connecting London to the vanguard of British and international theatre is unparalleled. After four wonderful years in Dublin, I am looking forward to making London my home, strengthening ties with UK and international artists and colleagues and making my mark on a festival that creates such a singular celebration of the city.  LIFT has an incredible legacy, shaped by visionary artists and leaders and I’m thrilled to be charting its next bold moves alongside Beki Bateson and LIFT’s dynamic team and Board of Trustees.”

Bernard Donoghue, Chair of the LIFT Board, said “I am delighted that Kris has accepted our invitation to be the next Artistic Director of LIFT and Joint CEO with Beki Bateson.  Kris has the most fantastic track record in programming and producing provocative, entertaining, disruptive, energising theatre and events. His work most recently at  Dublin Fringe Festival has been inspiring and I know he will be a wonderful new addition to the London and UK festival and theatre scene.  The team and I are very excited to be working alongside Kris when he takes up the role next year.”

Beki Bateson said “I’m delighted that Kris will join me in leading LIFT and driving forward the artistic vision of one of our most relevant cultural institutions. His verve and commitment to supporting bold artists makes him the perfect fit for LIFT as we continue to pioneer original international work. I and the team are excited to collaborate with him on the next chapter of the LIFT adventure.”

Kris Nelson is currently Festival Director of Dublin Fringe Festival, Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival and one of the world’s only fully curated Fringe Festivals. His leadership of the 2014-2017 editions has made Dublin Fringe the place where experimental work becomes popular, and the popular can get daring. During his tenure, Fringe has launched hundreds of bold new works by some of Ireland’s leading independent and emerging theatre, dance, circus and comedy artists, and introduced iconoclast international makers to Irish audiences. He has created new Irish and international co-presenting, touring and artist exchange partnerships and secured foundation and sponsorship support for the festival’’s ambitious programme. In 2016, Dublin Fringe Festival attracted its highest audience in over a decade with almost 40,000 people attending.

A Canadian, originally from Saskatoon, Kris was based in Vancouver and Montreal before moving to Dublin. He was founding director of Antonym, a Montreal-based producing and touring agency that represented some of Canada’s most acclaimed experimental dance, theatre and live art artists including Theatre Replacement (Vancouver), Ame Henderson/Public Recordings (Toronto) and (Montreal). Imagined as more than a booking agency, from 2008-2013, Antonym consolidated commissioning partnerships, toured unconventional works to Australia, Europe, North and South America, and also co-initiated and co-curated the independent artist platform PushOFF (with Joyce Rosario, Vancouver) as well as showcases in Toronto and Montreal. Independently engaged by some of Canada’s most significant arts festivals, Kris was Encounters Series Curator for Magnetic North Theatre Festival (2009-2011, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo) and Associate Producer of its 2008 Vancouver edition. Kris was also Associate Producer and Assembly Producer for the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (2005-2007, Vancouver). As a dramaturg, Kris has worked with Caravan Farm Theatre (Armstrong), Théâtre la Catapulte (Ottawa) and on several award-winning plays by emerging writers. He is a graduate of Langara College’s Studio 58 Conservatory in Vancouver.
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About Author /

Matthew has been writing for the past 5 years about music, sports and movies and has now finally got his chance to write about theatre. Having previously worked for the likes of Kerrang and Uncut, as well as previously having a radio show for 6 Towns, he has interviewed hundreds of bands throughout his career.

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