The King’s Head Theatre, one of the London fringe’s best-loved venues, has been without an artistic director since the untimely death of its founder, Dan Crawford, to cancer, in 2005. Crawford’s widow and associate artistic director, Stephanie Sinclaire, took over in the role of creative director and chief executive, relaunching the theatre as an independent producing house in 2007, but it is only now, following Sinclaire’s purchase of the theatre’s freehold last month, that an artistic director has been appointed to continue Crawford’s legacy.

Adam Spreadbury-Maher has been artistic director of the Cock Tavern, Kilburn since it opened in January 2009 and will continue in the role once he takes on the artistic directorship at the King’s Head. The intention is for Spreadbury-Maher, as well as a couple of members of core staff from the Cock Tavern, to work across both venues from the autumn, when Spreadbury-Maher’s inaugural season begins.

Sinclaire and Spreadbury-Maher met last year when the 29-year-old director won the Dan Crawford/Peter Brook Award for his work at the Cock Tavern. In a statement released today Sinclaire has commented that Spreadbury-Maher’s “passion, knowledge, commitment, sincerity, breadth of vision and ability to inspire reminded” her of her late husband and led her to approach Spreadbury-Maher regarding the role. She has been impressed, she says, by Spreadbury-Maher’s “own producing model. Based on his concept of ‘super engagement’ it is a model after my own heart, born in collaboration and inspiration and visionary leadership”.

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the King’s Head. Since it was founded in 1970 by Crawford and his second wife Joan (Sinclaire was Crawford’s third wife), the theatre has transferred over 40 shows to the West End and eight to Broadway. Recent successes include Phil Willmott’s double-bill of F**king Men and Naked Boys Singing, which transferred to the Arts Theatre after breaking the record for longest running fringe show. Details of Spreadbury-Maher’s inaugural season are expected to be released in the summer.