Board of Directors

Following the 2013 AGM, the following were elected to the Board of Directors: Susan Morrison, Gareth Morinan and Richard Wiseman.

For more information on how to become a Member of the Fringe Society and have your say visit our Membership page.

The current board of directors is elected by the members of the Fringe Society. They are:

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea (chair) (Back to top)

Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea became Principal of the University of Edinburgh in 2002. A computer scientist he is a graduate of the Universities of Sussex and Leeds. In his early career he was a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and has worked in the United States and for the Open University where he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1993. He was elected Master of Birkbeck in 1997 and subsequently appointed Provost of Gresham College and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, holding the three posts concurrently until returning to Edinburgh as Principal.

Professor O’Shea is Chair of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and in August 2012 was appointed Chair of the Board of Directors of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. His fellowships are from Birkbeck, the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, the European Co-ordinating Committee on Artificial Intelligence and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He holds an honorary degree from Heriot-Watt University, University of Strathclyde and McGill University.

Professor O’Shea was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s 2008 New Year Honours in recognition of his services to higher education.

Anthony Alderson (vice chair) (Back to top)

I have worked in and around the Festival Fringe since 1986, appointed director of the Pleasance Theatre Trust (Pleasance) in 2005. Over the years I have enjoyed many different roles at the Pleasance from courtyard sweeper to carpenter, box office, front of house, stage manager, production manager, general manager and now director. Between festivals I also run the Pleasance Trust’s two theatre spaces and development centre in London. In 2010 I launched a £4.5m fundraising campaign to expand the charity in order to create three new rehearsal rooms, a new 90 seat theatre alongside a £1.5m production fund, set up to directly support artists and companies wishing to present work at the festival and beyond. Many of the productions the Pleasance presents at the festival have been created in this new space, and many other theatre companies have been able to benefit from those facilities. Being brought up in Edinburgh meant that the Fringe was always part of my family’s summer. Like so many young people, coming to the Fringe started as a holiday job, but it got under my skin. I love this festival because of the people who take part, it finds champions in the most unlikely places. This is a community that adores and creates change, it helps us shape our society and examine our beliefs. It is a constant inspiration. We must not fear change, but we must we wary, and examine carefully what and why we are changing, Our role on the Fringe Society board is to protect and develop this festival. When I’m not in the theatre I have three hooligan children and a hugely talented wife who keep me constantly laughing. I love, but am not great at cooking, and my attempts at gardening have over many years involved putting plants into pots in the vain hope they won’t wilt and die – it’s a kind of therapy! Other activities have included a great deal of travelling with Cheek by Jowl, STOMP and Ennio Marchetto, I am also a Director of the National Student Drama Festival, Director of Creative Islington, and a member of The Association of Independent Venue Producers (AIVP). I have served on the board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society since 2006.

Peter Buckley Hill (Back to top)

Peter Buckley Hill is a comedian and songwriter. He was elected to the Fringe Board in 2011.

Born in 1948, Peter has had a varied career including 30 years as a university lecturer and also periods in business, with large and small firms and as a consultant. He holds an MBA from London Business School and a doctorate in education from the University of Bristol.

Peter brought his first one-man show to the Fringe in 1994, and in 1996 founded the Free Fringe: from that single 1996 show, the Free Fringe has grown to 4830 performances of 315 shows in 2011, over 10% of the Fringe itself. This rises to 20% when one counts shows run in imitation of the Free Fringe but not formally part of it.

PBH (as he is almost universally known) was honoured with the Panel Prize in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards (formerly Perrier awards) in 2009.

Along with his fellow directors, PBH is passionate about the Fringe, and is a fierce defender of the rights of performers in this complex environment, especially first-time Fringe performers. He still does two shows a day himself during the Fringe, and loves performing. He has been reviewed at everything from one star to five stars, and as Kipling recommends tries to treat those twin impostors just the same.

Sally Cowling (Back to top)

Sally Cowling is an independent arts consultant, specialising in international and sustainable projects, including the creation of markets and showcases for the performing arts and the development of environmentally responsible touring. Until recently, Sally was Director of Drama and Dance at the British Council, responsible for the Council's global theatre and dance programme over the course of a decade, during which she broadened its areas of engagement to encompass emerging theatre and dance artists, experimental work and live art. Sally has postgraduate degrees in English and European Literature and in Arts Management. She has worked as a dramaturg, a theatre critic and as a theatre and dance producer for organisations in Norway, Greece and the United States and in Britain for the Phoenix and Haymarket Theatres in Leicester, for Actors Touring Company, Cheek by Jowl and The Gate Theatre. She has also worked for the Arts Council of England in their London and West Midlands offices. At the British Council, Sally originated their biennial Edinburgh Showcase which brings over 250 international promoters to the Fringe each time it is presented and which has launched the international careers of a great many British theatre artists. Sally sits on a number of advisory and award panels and has been a member of the Board of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2007. Sally was awarded an M.B.E. in 2005.

Judith Doherty (Back to top)

Judith has served on the Fringe Board since 2000 but 2012 will be her nineteenth year working at Edinburgh’s August festivals. Judith is Chief Executive, Co-Artistic Director and Producer of Edinburgh-based site-specific theatre specialists, Grid Iron, which she founded in 1995. Grid Iron, as well as performing nine times at the Fringe have also performed once at the Edinburgh International Festival. They have received 27 awards and many more nominations covering all aspects of their work, over half of which have been given to their Fringe shows. The company now produce internationally and have been named by The Scotsman as “one of the best exponents of the site-specific genre in the world”, a reputation they owe, in great part, to the opportunities that have come their way as a result of performing in Edinburgh in August. Aside from her work with Grid Iron Judith has managed two Fringe venues (Bedlam Theatre in 1994 and Hill Street Theatre in 1999) and worked for two festivals in the Fringe Office, on both programme production and in the box office, culminating in the position of Assistant Box Office Manager in 1996. From 2006 to 2008, when Grid Iron didn’t have shows at the Fringe, Judith was Yurt Manager for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She has also worked freelance for EIF, BBC Scotland, Universal Arts and various events companies including Unique Events. Judith can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world than this glorious city during its glorious festival.

Sam Gough (Back to top)

Sam is the General Manager and Head of Events at Summerhall, the new and exciting all year round centre for the arts.

Whilst still at school Sam had his first experience of the Fringe and Edinburgh. In 1992 he was sent, rather reluctantly, to spend the summer with his brother who was putting on a show. He fell in love with the city and the Fringe and from that point, school holidays were spent touring with his brother’s company – travelling to Russia, Bosnia and even Glasgow! Every summer was spent at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Sam graduated from Edinburgh University in 1998 with an MA in Art History, the Royal degree, and set up his own company with some University friends. "The House of Bacchus" was a corporate and private event management and party planning company that specialised in unique and historic venues. Following some triumphs and unforgettable experiences he closed the business in order to experience other areas of production and events.

Having spent a number of years managing events at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and creating, growing and developing their Fringe presence, Venue 150 @ EICC, Sam's current role is as General Manager and Head of Events at Summerhall, a year-round arts venue with a strong presence in many of the Edinburgh festivals, including the Fringe.

Sam lives in Penicuik with his wife and twin daughters. When not being kept busy by the twins he likes to garden and tries to be as self-sufficient as possible by growing his own produce. He also likes to run having completed several half and full marathons whilst fundraising for various charities.

Sam was elected to the board in the Open category in August 2011.

Shelagh Mackay (Back to top)

Shelagh Mackay joined the Fringe Society Board in 1995, she was an advisor with Arts in Business and performed a management review and was encouraged to stand for election to the board. She is a Chartered Accountant, based in Edinburgh, and has worked in the commercial and banking industries as well as having served as a non Executive Director for Edinburgh's Telford College, festival Theatres Trust and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

In March 2011, Shelagh was appointed to the Board of Directors by the elected Directors. She currently chairs the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee for the society.

Gareth Morinan (Back to top)

Gareth Morinan is a London based comedian. After graduating from Warwick with a MSc in Mathematics, Statistics & Economics, he took a job as a Civil Servant analyst in Westminster. He worked in a range of areas, constructing projection models and interpreting results to Ministers in order to aid their decision making on key policy areas. He now makes a living as a comedian, actor and animator.

Gareth fell in love with the Fringe after first visiting and has been bringing shows up each year since 2008. He is acquainted with comedians from across the festival and knows their trials intimately. Joining the Fringe Society Board in 2013, Gareth wishes to use his analytical skill set to fairly represent the priorities of performers at the Fringe.

Gareth was elected to the Board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society in the Venue category I August 2013.

Susan Morrison (Back to top)

(Biography coming soon)


Alister O’Loughlin (Back to top)

I joined the board in 2005, eight years after first visiting the festival. In the same year with Prodigal Theatre I played the complete “Tragedian Trilogy” at Southside winning one of the inaugural Three Weeks Editors Awards and a nomination for Best Actor from The Stage. With Prodigal we’ve played at a variety of venues across the Fringe over the years and always attend as promoters looking to connect artists with the development work run through the venue we founded “The Nightingale Theatre” in Brighton. As a performer, venue manager and promoter I’ve always been a passionate fan of the Fringe and am privileged to be sitting on the board where as a trustee of the Fringe Society I have the opportunity to contribute opinions and advice based on my experiences both at “our fringe” and as a frequent performer at other UK and international festivals, both with Prodigal and our Urban Playground Team. I am currently leading the board’s work with the Participant’s Council which I’m extremely excited about, it is a hugely positive development for the Fringe, and I’m looking forward to performing in Berkoff’s Oedipus throughout the Fringe.

Tommy Sheppard (Back to top)

Tommy Sheppard left County Derry in 1977 to study medicine at Aberdeen. Five years later he got a degree in sociology and elected to be vice-president of the NUS.

After a decade in politics and PR – and knocking around ‘alternative’ comedy clubs - in the Metropolis Tommy moved back to Scotland in 1994 to become assistant general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party. Tony Blair asked him to leave three years later.

In 1995 he was one of the founders of the Stand Comedy Club, initially a hobby, but with the onset of redundancy transformed into a full time business. He’s been persuading people to buy tickets ever since. He also runs the Scottish Comedy Agency, which organises tours and festivals throughout the country.

He lives on the south side of Edinburgh with partner Kate, 14 year old Isabelle and a cocker spaniel called Reuben.

Kate Smurthwaite (Back to top)

Kate Smurthwaite is a political stand-up comic and satirist who has been performing at the Fringe since 2004. Her solo show this year is called "The News At Kate: 2011". She is the host and lead writer of Britain's most popular live political panel show The Comedy Manifesto, which returns to the fringe this year for the fourth time and the host of the late-night fringe comedy variety show The Midnight Hour. Throughout the rest of the year Kate performs stand-up around the UK and overseas and is the resident compere at Soho Comedy Club in central London. This year she also warmed up for Shazia Mirza on parts of her UK tour. She is the lead writer for international satirical TV show Network which was this year aired its pilot and was commissioned for an extended series.

Kate appears regularly on television and radio as a commentator on political issues and lighter matters on shows including BBC Breakfast, The Big Questions, Women's Hour, The Jeremy Vine Show (BBC Radio 2), The Stephen Nolan Show (BBC Five Live), The Tony Livesey Show (BBC Five Live), The Richard Bacon Show (BBC Five Live), The Rum Shop (BBC London) and The Vanessa Feltz Show (BBC London).

Kate is also a keen political activist and works regularly with equality and human rights groups including women's rights groups and groups helping refugees and asylum seekers. She received an award for her work this year from Platform 51.

Richard Wiseman (Back to top)

Richard Wiseman holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. His research has been published in leading academic journals, with one Scientific American columnist labelling him ‘….the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today’.

He has written several best-selling popular psychology books that have been translated into over 30 languages, including The Luck Factor, Quirkology, and 59 Seconds. Richard’s YouTube channel has received over 150 million views, and has created more viral videos than anyone else in the UK. He has given keynote addresses to The Royal Society, The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.

Finally, Richard was listed in the Independent On Sunday’s top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live, and has acted as a creative consultant to Derren Brown, The MythBusters, and Heston Blumenthal.

Richard was elected to the Board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society in the Open category in August 2013.

Collin Wood (Back to top)

Collin Wood graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a B Com. and subsequently joined Scottish & Newcastle plc, working in a variety of brand marketing and general management roles before being appointed to the Board of S&N UK in 1992 and remaining there for 10 years in the various capacities of Corporate Strategy Director, Trading Director for the North of the UK, and also as Marketing Director. Collin left S&N in late 2002 in order to acquire a number of beer brand equities from S&N and is currently an Executive Director of both T&R Theakston Ltd and Sylva UK Ltd. Throughout this time, Collin has had direct responsibility for the commercial assessment of a wide range of arts, sports and community based sponsorship activities, including the commercial involvement of a number of consumer brands with the Edinburgh Fringe.

Collin was elected to the Festival Fringe Society Board in August 2007 and plays a proactive role in the development of the Society through his membership of the Business Planning ; Finance, Audit and Risk ; and Box Office Board Sub Committees. In March 2011, Collin was appointed to the Board of Directors by the elected Directors. He strongly believes that there is a clear opportunity for the Edinburgh Fringe to be further developed as a truly international brand, but that any such commercial development must unquestionably be undertaken in a way which ensures that the Edinburgh Fringe continues its pre-eminent status as the largest and most significant open access arts festival in the world.

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