Locarno Puts Forward Maja Hoffmann as First Female Board President 

Switzerland’s preeminent Locarno Film Festival has tapped arts patron Maja Hoffmann, founder of the LUMA Foundation, to be its first female president in its 70-plus years of existence. 

The festival’s Board of Directors unanimously approved Hoffmann to succeed Marco Solari who has held the position for more than two decades. Solari will be on hand to assist Hoffmann during the transition phase, which begins at the conclusion of this year’s 76th edition.

Said Hoffman: “My thanks go to the appointment committee and the Board of Directors for the trust they have shown in me. After spending many years exploring and putting into practice a range of projects, both in Switzerland and abroad, I am pleased to be able to put my experience and knowhow at the service of the future of this prestigious Festival, and so help foster the development of culture in Switzerland.”

“Locarno has always displayed a robust identity, which is vital to strengthening the positioning of the Festival internationally,” she added.

In addition to giving its final stamp of approval to Hoffmann’s appointment, an Extraordinary General Meeting on Sept. 20 is set to discuss reducing the Board of Directors membership from 27 to 7, while two new consultative bodies will be introduced: the Policy Advisory Board and the Industry Advisory Board. 

Given their expertise in these sectors, the two new boards will provide support for the Board of Directors in its strategic planning. 

In a statement, the Board of Directors thanked Solari for his “fundamental contribution” to the Locarno festival for over two decades “and for the skilful way he has led the work of its directors, guaranteeing the growth and development of the Festival in the new millennium and consolidating its position at the international level.” 

“This designation, together with the revised forms of governance, will guarantee for Canton Ticino and Switzerland a robust festival with enormous potential. I am delighted that Maja Hoffmann has accepted, because I am quite certain that her exceptional experience in the art, film and multimedia fields will enable her to lead the Festival towards a new phase in its history, in a scenario where the fundamental requirement is to focus on the excellence of our cultural offering,” said Solari.

As the founder and president of the LUMA Foundation, one of the leading private-sector cultural projects in Europe, Hoffmann has led the  Foundation’s mission to oversee urgent issues affecting culture, nature, scientific and ecological experimentation as well as help foster new structures for innovation and positive change. 

Hoffmann also leads a raft of international institutions: she is president of the Swiss Institute New York (U.S.) and of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles (France), vice-president of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation Collection in Basel (Switzerland) and a board member at the Serpentine Galleries in London (U.K.), the Kunsthalle Zürich (Switzerland), the New Museum  and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, both in New York State. In addition, she is a member of Human Rights Watch. 

The 76th Locarno Film Festival runs Aug. 2 to 12.

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