Fringe fest topper ankles

Artistic director Gudgin to step down June 7

EDINBURGH — After eight years, the artistic director of the world’s biggest arts festival is stepping down. Paul Gudgin, who has headed the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 1999, will leave June 7, after launching the program for this summer’s event. He plans to develop the contacts he has made in the U.K. and internationally to work as a producer of festival and event-related projects.

Edinburgh Councilor Donald Anderson, responsible for sport, culture and tourism in the city, says: “Paul has transformed the Festival Fringe and turned it into an event that sells more tickets than the Commonwealth Games.”

Since its inception in 1947, when eight theater companies decided to complement the official program of the newly founded Edinburgh Intl. Festival, the Fringe has grown steadily. By 2006 there were more than 28,000 performances of 1,867 shows and, since 2003, the Fringe has routinely sold more than a million tickets.

Gudgin, 42, was previously general manager of Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall and manager of the Bury St. Edmunds Festival. He says he is leaving the Fringe at a time of strength: “It’s been a great privilege to run the world’s largest arts festival for the past eight years and I’m pleased that as an organization we’ve passed some impressive milestones and seen such exponential growth.”

The 2007 Fringe runs Aug. 5­27.

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