Sara Mohr-Pietsch appointed artistic director of Dartington Summer School & Festival

Once in a while there are stories which arrive in my inbox which do for a moment take me a little by surprise. This is one of them. 

That’s not to say I think appointing Sara Mohr-Pietsch as artistic director of Dartington Summer School and Festival is a bad decision. Far from it. It is a very good thing.

Rather, the announcement demonstrates how refreshing such an appointment is. There’s an assumption that an artistic director needs to be either someone who has previously been an artistic director elsewhere, or someone who comes from a pure performance background. That the press release leads on Sara as ‘a music broadcaster, curator and writer’ and speaks of her other content facilitation and production work, underlines a break with convention. 

Her appointment also reasserts Dartington’s position in the UK festival scene, aligning it with Aldeburgh, Edinburgh and, given Sara’s involvement in and advocacy for the UK’s new music scene, possibly even the Manchester International and Huddersfield.

It would be easy to assume that we’ll see Dartington embrace more unorthodox programming in its summer school and festival. Maybe that’s my imagination getting a little carried away. Though Dartington Hall Trust Chief Exec Rhodri Samuel’s press release quote might suggest that a new approach is exactly what they’re striving for: “Sara is taking on this role at a pivotal and exciting time in the Trust’s history, as we begin the delivery of a programme of transformation and change.”

Sara Mohr-Pietsch starts her role as Artistic Director at Dartington Summer School and Festival in January 2019. Her first programmed festival will be in 2020.