The Stratford Festival will announce at a press conference in Toronto this morning that Antoni Cimolino will assume the reins of the organization after Richard Monette steps down as artistic director at the conclusion of the 2007 season.

Cimolino began as an actor with the Stratford fest in 1988, became general manager in 1998 and was named executive director in 2000.

Prior to the announcement, sources have indicated Cimolino will be given the title of general director, assuming artistic as well as fiscal responsibilities for the festival.

He also is expected to announce a series of associate artistic directors, international in scope, to broaden the fest’s worldwide reputation.

The largest not-for-profit theater in North America, Stratford was founded in 1953 by Tyrone Guthrie. It played to 540,000 patrons last season, and its budget for 2006 is just under C$53 million ($46 million).

Canadian-born Cimolino also has emerged as a director in the past decade. Last year, he helmed Stratford’s successful “summer-of-love” production of “As You Like It” and is currently in rehearsals for Colm Feore starrer “Coriolanus,” which opens May 29.