The Park Avenue Armory has named Alex Poots, currently the director of England's Manchester International Festival, as its first artistic director. He will begin work on the Armory’s 2013 season in early 2012, at least some of which will include shared programming with Manchester. Poots will retain both artistic directorships.
The Manchester Festival, which launched in 2007 and has taken place every two years since, has aimed to put Britain's first industrial city on the global cultural map by hosting new works by respected performers. The 2011 festival featured a residency by Björk; a new opera by the pop songwriter Damon Albarn; and original productions by performance artist Marina Abramovic and theater company Punchdrunk.
This programming mission would appear to be a strong fit with that of the Armory, which has become a destination for nontraditional performances, is embarking on a $200 million restoration and is seeking to commission new work. The New York Times reports that the Armory plans to triple its artistic budget to $5 million by 2013.
“Alex has distinguished himself at the Manchester International Festival with bold and brilliant commissions, and he has developed groundbreaking productions in unconventional spaces,” said Park Avenue President Rebecca Robertson. “With his artistic vision and sensibility, he is the perfect person to help the Armory realize its vision. We are also looking forward to developing collaborative projects with the highly acclaimed Manchester International Festival.”
Poots grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked for both the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe festival. His move to Manchester was viewed by some as an attempt to take direct aim at Edinburgh’s primacy as a summer destination for bold contemporary work, an assertion he denied. Poots has previously worked for the Tate Modern and English National Opera.