Tuesday, 12 November 2019

New chief executive appointed by festival

New chief executive appointed by festival

THE Henley Festival has a new chief executive.

Nick Mattingley, 49, who has worked in theatre production and operations and as an events director, said he was “elated” to take on the role.

He said: “The community spirit of it is key and it’s not often you find something that has such a groundswell of community support and engagement, so it’s fantastic from that point of view.

“The location is, without a doubt, very special. Because of those things artists want to come to the festival.

“In terms of the choices we’ll make, it’s difficult for programming but it’s great people want to play that stage. It’s such a diverse mix — the comedy, jazz, the food part of it — the experience is on multiple levels.

“It will be key to work with [artistic director] Stewart Collins and come up with a bit of an artistic vision that is costed but at the same time puts Henley front and centre and makes it the first thing people buy ahead of other festivals.”

Mr Mattingley, who lives in Farnham with his wife Johanna Green and daughter Tessa, 12, said he wanted to grow the festival’s friends group and put its charitable work “front and centre”.

He said: “I think I can bring a lot to the role — increasing ticketing, marketing, fund-raising and stakeholder engagement.

“It would be interesting to explore how wide a catchment area we can go to. It is very Henley-based but it is at that tri-point of three counties.

“I think in terms of my tool box of skills and disciplines it’s almost a bit of a coming together and I’ve nearly moved to Henley twice.

“I love the Thames — it’s my spiritual home and I lived on the river on a boat on the Grand Union Canal for many years.”

Mr Mattingley’s career in theatre began as an independent producer before he joined the arts and entertainments division at IMG UK.

There he worked on projects including the Hampton Court Palace Music Festival, the English Heritage Picnic Concerts at Kenwood House and Audley End, annual concerts at Tatton Park, the ice rink at the Natural History Museum, London Bierfest and British Military Tournament for which he was the production director.

More recently he was shows director at the Royal Horticultural Society, looking after the flower shows at Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chatsworth House, Hampton Court Palace, Tatton Park, Cardiff and Malvern as well as other smaller London shows.

His freelance work has included equestrian events such as the Longines Global Champions on Horse Guards Parade and the Spanish Riding School of Vienna at Wembley and the NEC in Birmingham.

More recently, he worked for exhibition design company Enigma in Marlow before going freelance to stage a tri-services military event in Saudi Arabia in 2022.

His first taste of the Henley Festival was in 2013 when IMG was invited to the festival and was looking at the possibility of a joint venture partnership.

Mr Mattingley replaces Charlotte Geeves, who stepped down at the end of August to become executive director and chief executive officer of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre.

He met her earlier this year and said: “It turned out our backgrounds were virtually mirrored and I remember thinking at the time ‘good heavens, what a fantastic role’.

“I felt in terms of roles running the Henley Festival is pretty high up there. It’s such a prestigious event, such a treasure.

“At the time I was full invested in Enigma but when I heard she was leaving I absolutely jumped at the chance.”

Mr Mattingley said Ms Geeves had done an “amazing” job in her five years in the role and added: “Keeping Henley Festival standing out is going to be one of the challenges but given my background I think I can absolutely do that.”

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