Tour de France arts festival chief ‘offered to quit’ role

The £2m Grand Depart cultural festival’s director has left her role leading the event less than half way through a 12-month contract.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 3rd March 2014, 12:43 pm
Maria Bota, former festival director of the Yorkshire Festival 2014
Maria Bota, former festival director of the Yorkshire Festival 2014

It has emerged that Maria Bota, who was installed as festival director of the Yorkshire Festival 2014 back in August, handed over the reins to the first ever pre-Tour de France arts celebration as far back as December 18 when she ended her £55,000-a-year job.

The events supremo, who had made her name heading up Salisbury Festival, was tasked with commissioning artists for the 47-project county-wide event which starts on March 27.

Tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire confirmed the departure and said that the then director had suggested stepping down and did not receive a pay-off.

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Maria Bota, former festival director of the Yorkshire Festival 2014

A spokeswoman said Ms Bota had a pre-planned trip to Australia over the Christmas period and upon being told the festival programme would be launched in January, she offered to leave.

She said: “Maria put in a place a terrific programme which touches almost every part of our county and includes a wide range of cultural activity. It was then mutually agreed we should appoint an executive producer.”

Henrietta Duckworth, a West Yorkshire Playhouse producer of eight years, was brought into the fold in December to take over.

The Yorkshire Festival 2014’s cultural programme, which will mark the 100-day countdown to the Grand Depart on July 5 and 6, was announced with much fanfare following an artistic flashmob at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre in late January.

Around £1m from Arts Council England has been given to the festival, along with funds from local authorities and Yorkshire Water.

An Arts Council spokeswoman confirmed the organisation has been kept fully informed of the changes.

She said: “We are confident that the festival will be delivered as per the original proposal and will be a great success.”