Spoleto never got to hold a 2020 opening ceremony after the festival was canceled due to the pandemic | Photo by Leigh Webber, Courtesy Spoleto

Spoleto Festival USA’s longtime General Director Nigel Redden will step down from his position in October 2021, the festival announced Thursday. Redden has held the general director position at the festival since 1995.

“The cancellation of the 2020 Festival and the enforced isolation of the last several months have made me realize that, after nearly 35 years since I first joined Spoleto Festival USA, it is time for me to retire,” Redden said in a press release. “The Festival continues to mean an enormous amount to me — my first real job was working as a studente assistente at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, starting in 1969. I have no doubt the Festival will continue to thrive, and I will be excited to see how the organization evolves under new leadership.”

Redden first started with Spoleto in 1986 | Photo by Leigh Webber, Courtesy Spoleto

Redden has been an integral part of Charleston’s world-class arts festival since 1986, when he joined as general manager. He departed in 1991, but returned in 1995 after the festival had “suffered significant deficits.” Redden helped the event build endowments, renovate venues like Dock Street Theatre and the Charleston Gaillard Center and staged many world and U.S. premiere productions.

John Kennedy, the festival’s resident conductor and director of orchestral activities said: “Nigel has brought to the Festival a perspective rooted in a love for Charleston and a love for the arts. In addition to his broad and generous view of what the arts can be, he possesses a deep knowledge of history and global culture, which has had an enduring impact on Spoleto’s programming and ethos. He is an unfailing ally of artists, encouraging us to take chances and placing faith in our dreams.”

Spoleto has not yet named a replacement for Redden, but Bill Medich, Chairman of the Board of Spoleto Festival USA said the search for a new general director will begin immediately.

“Nigel’s successful tenure, along with the Festival’s sterling reputation and organizational and financial strength, puts Spoleto Festival USA in a position to attract the highest caliber candidates,” said Medich.