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Cameron Bailey is new co-head of Toronto International Film Festival

Last Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 2:01 pm EDT

Cameron Bailey, shown in a handout photo, has been promoted to artistic director and co-head of the organization behind the Toronto International Film Festival. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-TIFF-Matt Barnes MANDATORY CREDIT

TORONTO – Cameron Bailey says he wants to ensure the Toronto International Film Festival remains engaged with its audience as he helps co-lead the organization through a changing cinematic landscape.

On Thursday, TIFF announced Bailey has been promoted to its artistic director and co-head. It’s a newly created position and expansion of his current role of artistic director, which he has held since 2012.

The role is part of a two-headed structure to replace outgoing director and CEO Piers Handling, who announced last July that this year’s festival would be his last.

Bailey’s position will focus on the artistic direction of the organization — overseeing the programming of films, talks and learning programs.

The other position, managing director and co-head, will handle business and revenue. TIFF says the board of directors is expected to announce who will be in that role prior to this year’s festival, which runs Sept. 6-16.

Bailey says part of his goal is to ensure audiences are visiting the TIFF Bell Lightbox, watching movies and taking part in its programming.

“I still believe that that social experience is going to be really important,” Bailey said Thursday in a phone interview.

“And as we’re doing that, we have to also look at the different ways that people are engaging with film. The streaming services have changed, the landscape for people, just the volume of choice that’s available to all of us now has changed the landscape.”

Such an outlook is part of TIFF’s five-year strategic plan that includes helping inspire audiences.

“How do we help people expand their world through what we’re putting in front of them? That’s really the job going forward,” Bailey said.

Bailey joined TIFF as a programmer in 1990 and was festival co-director from 2008-2012.

His new position takes effect Oct. 1, after the 2018 festival finishes and Handling steps down from his post.

TIFF said its board decided on the two-headed structure for TIFF, with both roles working closely together.

Handling has been working for the festival since 1982. He will have been CEO for 24 years by the time he steps down.

In a statement, Handling said he has “tremendous respect” for Bailey “and his longstanding contribution to TIFF’s success.”

“His passion and vision for the future of the organization underlines his deep leadership skills. It gives me great comfort to know TIFF is in such good hands.”

Bailey said he and Handling are “in the thick of” programming the 2018 festival, which will be the first TIFF since the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements started.

“I think we’re all more aware of the need to really build an environment of respect and safety for everyone who attends our festival,” said Bailey, noting they’ll be ensuring everyone knows what their code of conduct is.

“It’s been clear from some of what has come out in the last few months that festivals can be an opportunity for abuse and we want to make sure that does not happen at TIFF.”