Contact Theatre’s Jon Morgan (pictured) has been appointed as director of the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, taking over from Paul Gudgin, who announced his resignation earlier this year (See News, 22 Jan 2007).

Morgan will take the helm in June 2007 ahead of the commencement of the 61st annual Fringe in August. He’s currently executive producer at Contact Theatre in Manchester, where, since joining in 2003, he has managed a wide range of contemporary performance and workshop programmes for and with young audiences since. He has also been involved in a range of initiatives to encourage new and emerging artists to develop performances and has produced work which has toured in the UK and internationally.

Prior to his work with Contact, Morgan worked with many of Scotland's leading arts venues and performing companies. He has also worked with the Scottish Arts Council to give advice on touring dance and drama, and on the bid to establish the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS).

Baroness Elizabeth Smith, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Fringe, said in a statement today: “Heading up the world’s biggest celebration of the arts is a challenging role, and we are confident that Jon is extremely well placed for it. His experience paired with his ambition will no doubt build on the Fringe’s past success.”

Morgan commented: “I’m very pleased to be returning to Scotland's vibrant arts scene and am looking forward to getting started. It’s an exciting and demanding time for the Fringe, and it’s clear to me that working in partnership with the huge variety of groups, individuals and supporters that make up the festival is key to the Fringe's continuing success.”

Donald Anderson, the City of Edinburgh's Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Tourism said: "Paul Gudgin will be a tough act to follow, but Jon obviously has extensive experience both north and south of the border that will be invaluable in this role. It is an exciting time for all the summer festivals with three new appointments in the run up to the 2007 Festival, and I am sure we have a strong team to take our festivals forward.”

Though commonly seen as one single event, the Edinburgh festival is in reality several different festivals - the main ones being the Edinburgh Fringe and its more austere parent, the original Edinburgh International Festival, as well as the Military Tattoo, the Jazz Festival, the Film Festival and the Book Festival - of which the Fringe is, by far, the largest. The 2007 Fringe runs from 5 to 27 August.

- by Caroline Ansdell