A veteran of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival has been tapped as the organization's next artistic director.

Antoni Cimolino will be taking over from Des McAnuff at the end of the 2012 season.

The festival's Board of Governors made the announcement Saturday, following a six-month search. 

On Saturday, the festival also announced that the 2011-2012 season ended with a surplus of $52,995.

"At a time when arts organizations throughout North America are struggling financially, we can take pride in the fact that we were able to realize a surplus while presenting a season of sound artistic integrity," Antoni Cimolino, the festival's general director, said in a statement.

"Our staff and artists can be very proud of their accomplishments in 2011. We met a number of fiscal challenges head on and presented a playbill that generated extremely enthusiastic response across the board." 

Highlights included a production of Twelfth Night filmed for cinematic release by Barry Avrich and Des McAnuff's smash hit revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, which was extended in Stratford, travelled to San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse and opens on Broadway on March 22.

"His artistic vision includes a deep commitment to Shakespeare and classical theatre, great enthusiasm for the development of large-scale new works, terrific ideas about artist training and audience outreach and an inspiring perspective on the Festival's role within the broader Canadian theatre landscape.

"We have absolute confidence that he will build on the outstanding accomplishments of Des McAnuff and all of our other great artistic directors to further the success of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival," board chair Lee Myers said in a statement.

Now in his 25th season with the festival, Cimolino says he's "thrilled and honoured" to make a new and deeper contribution to the theatre that changed his life.

Cimolino joined the festival as an actor in 1988 and played Romeo opposite Megan Follows's Juliet in 1992. He soon moved into directing, helming his first solo festival production, Filumena, in 1997.

He was appointed the festival's general director in 2006.

McAnuff had originally planned to stay on through 2013 to help his successor learn the ropes. But he says Cimolino's inside knowledge of the festival — both as an actor and director — guarantees he'll hit the ground running.

"I will direct for Antoni in what will become his first season in 2013 and will be in residence through opening week, and I am committed to give him any support he asks for. He and I know that this will be a graceful and elegant transition."