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Benny Higgins appointed Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society board

Posted: 1st April 2021

Former CEO of Tesco Bank and Chair of National Galleries of Scotland to take up position with immediate effect

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is delighted to announce today, Friday 26 March, that Benny Higgins has been named as the new Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Board of Directors.

Benny has extensive experience in the financial sector. Most recently, he was the inaugural CEO of Tesco Bank, a position he held until February 2018. In 2017, he was made Strategic Adviser to the First Minister on the building of the Scottish National Investment Bank. He has also worked as Chief Executive of Retail Banking at RBS, and Chief Executive, Retail, HBOS.

His non-executive portfolio is wide-reaching. Amongst other responsibilities, he is Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland, a Trustee for the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, Chairman, The Fine Art Society (London and Edinburgh), Chairman of Sistema Scotland and Trustee of Burrell Renaissance. More details on Benny’s achievements and career can be found below.

Benny will take up his position at the Fringe Society with immediate effect. He succeeds Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, who served two full terms as Chair. Tim’s tenure was recently extended to March 2021, due to exceptional circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about the appointment, Benny Higgins said: “I am delighted to be appointed Chair of the Fringe Society. The Edinburgh Fringe is an essential component of Scotland’s cultural heritage, and now more than ever, we need to celebrate and invest in this vibrant, inclusive and accessible festival. As we rebuild our future together after this extraordinarily difficult time, I know that the Fringe will have an essential role to play in the country’s economic, social and cultural recovery.

“I look forward to working with Shona McCarthy and her team to help the Fringe re-emerge as the best version of itself, and to help ensure that the festival and the Fringe Society is robust, resilient and ready for new challenges and opportunities in the future.”

Fiona Davis, Vice Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society board, added: “We are living in extraordinary times, and undeniably, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the Fringe Society, the Fringe and the wider arts sector. As we move forward, the Fringe Society’s priority will be supporting those that make the greatest arts festival in the world happen every year, so that the Fringe and its many brilliant creatives can flourish once again.

“I am delighted to announce Benny’s appointment and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds under his leadership. I’m confident that his depth of experience in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, combined with his brilliant strategic vision, will help lead the Fringe Society going forward.

“As we look to the future, I’d also like to thank Tim O’Shea for his years of dedication, expertise and experience. His vision and leadership have ensured that we are ready to enter this new chapter on solid ground, and for that, we are ever indebted to him.”

About the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the charity that underpins the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe. It was established in 1958 by a group of artists to act as the custodian of Fringe values and as an agent for the festival’s continual flexibility and reinvention. We exist to support and encourage everyone who wants to participate in the Fringe; to provide information and assistance to audiences; and to celebrate the Fringe and what it stands for all over the world. Based on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the Society has a small team of staff who work year-round to assist all the artists and audiences who make the festival one of the best loved performing arts events on the planet.

About Benny Higgins: In 1983, Benny joined Standard Life as an actuarial student. He went on to become a member of the Standard Life Group Executive Committee in 1996. He moved to RBS in 1997 when he became Chief Executive of Retail Banking. In 2005, he led the successful integration of NatWest Retail Banking. In 2006, he became Chief Executive, Retail, HBOS, before joining Tesco Bank as Chief Executive in 2008. He held this position until February 2018.

In 2017, Benny was appointed as Strategic Adviser to the First Minister on the building of the Scottish National Investment Bank. He is also Executive Chairman, Buccleuch Group; Non-Executive Chairman, Markerstudy Group; Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Galleries of Scotland; Chairman, Sistema Scotland; Chairman, AAB Wealth; Chairman, Forster Chase Advisory; Chairman, The Fine Art Society (London and Edinburgh); Chairman, Kyckr; Non-Executive Director, Arabian Centres; Trustee, Burrell Renaissance; Court Member of Finance Committee, University of Glasgow; Trustee, Edinburgh International Culture Summit; Visiting Professor, University of Strathclyde; Honorary Professor, Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University; Honorary Professor, University of Edinburgh and Honorary Professor, University of Glasgow.

Benny holds a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow and he was awarded a University Blue in 1983. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

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