After 17 years as Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Baroness Elizabeth Smith of Gilmorehill has formally stepped down at the Society’s Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 18 August.

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“Elizabeth has been a fantastic Chair of the Fringe Society. During her time as Chair, the Fringe has cemented its position as the most successful arts event of its kind in the world. The internationalism of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe seems to speak to Elizabeth's own outward-looking nature and as Chair she has helped to ensure that the Fringe has grown without ever losing its vitality and bite. Elizabeth is a sane, shrewd and influential voice in politics, arts and public life in general.”

Pip Utton, Vice-Chair of the Society said:

“During Elizabeth’s time on the board, the Fringe Society has undergone one of the most important transformations in its history, with the Constitutional Review resulting in an entirely new constitution to ensure that the Society is best serving the participants, venues, audiences and other stakeholders who come to Edinburgh for this unique festival. I would like to thank her for her oversight and leadership during this process, and pay tribute for the way she has worked so hard for the good of the Fringe.”

Baroness Smith said:

“I have decided that it is time for some fresh thinking and for someone new to lead the board into the future. For me, serving the Fringe Society has been more fascinating and enthralling than I ever could have imagined when I joined the Board. If I have learnt anything over that time it is that the enduring strength of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is in people coming together and collaborating to create something truly unique and far, far greater than the sum of its parts.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society will announce their new chair in October.


About Elizabeth Smith

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill has been Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society since 1995, and brought extensive experience in the arts in Scotland along with strong international and political connections to the role.

Elizabeth Smith was elevated to the House of Lords in 1994, after the sudden death of her husband John Smith. Shortly after arriving in the House of Lords, the Baroness was made opposition spokesman on tourism.

One of the Baroness’s most important roles since 1996 has been heading the John Smith Memorial Trust, of which the most important activity is the John Smith Fellowship Programme, administered by the British Council.

As well as being Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society the Baroness’s involvement in Scotland’s arts scene has involved a stint as President of Scottish Opera and a member of the boards of the Edinburgh International Festival and the Covent Garden Festival. Baroness Smith has also been patron of the Mariinsky Theatre Trust, the working name of the Anglo-Russian Opera and Ballet Trust.


The Annual General Meeting of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society took place on Saturday 18 August 2012 at 10:00 in Fringe Central.

For more information please contact the Fringe Media Office on media@edfringe.com or 0131 240 1919