Charity behind Hay Festival appoints new chief

Julie Finch is the successor to Peter Florence, who stepped down after an investigation last year

Julie Finch (Photograph: Billie Charity)
Julie Finch (Photograph: Billie Charity)

The charity behind the Hay Festival has named Julie Finch as its new chief executive.

Finch, who is director of the Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park in Warwickshire, has been appointed to the new role after the departure of Peter Florence, the charity’s co-founder and director, who resigned last year after an independent investigation found some of his actions had “amounted to gross misconduct”.

Finch joins as the charity switches from supporting Hay’s literary events to directly delivering its festivals.

The accounts for 2020/21 say: “From 1 February 2022, the charity will take over the direct running of the Hay Festival and will be responsible for delivering the Hay Wales Festival in May and the Hay Winter Weekend in November, as well as the programme of education and outreach, support for international events, and digital provision.”

The charity’s income was £167,000 in 2020/21. Its annual running costs are expected to rise to about £1.2m as part of the restructure, according to the accounts.

Hay Festival said Finch had more than 20 years’ experience in the cultural sector, including as chief executive of The Cheltenham Trust and director of Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives Service.

Finch said: “I am pleased to be joining the charity as it continues to deliver world-leading events and reimagine the role a festival can play in our cultural landscape and contemporary society.

“I am grateful to the board for their trust in my vision and look forward to working with the whole team as we plot a future that’s both daring and sustainable.”

Caroline Michel, chair of the Hay Festival, said Finch had “a proven track record of strong leadership, effective strategy development and widening cultural participation”.

Finch will take up the role in August.

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