Simon Mellor, who is currently General Director of the Manchester International Festival, replaces Andrew Nairne who left in November to take up the position of Director at Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge.

Arts Council Chief Executive, Alan Davey, said: “I’m delighted to welcome someone of Simon’s calibre and track record to the Arts Council. He has made the Manchester International Festival a force to be reckoned with across all art forms and did outstanding work as the Executive Director of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. He’ll bring fresh ideas as we continue to make sure arts and culture remain at the heart of what we are as a country. “

Of his new post, Simon Mellor said: “This a tremendously exciting time to be joining the organisation and I’m looking forward to working with Alan and the team to help make the Arts Council’s plans to achieve great art for everyone a reality.

“I’m enormously proud of what Alex Poots, Christine Cort and I have achieved in founding the Manchester International Festival and helping it go on to be such a success; it was only the prospect of tackling such an exciting challenge that persuaded me to move.”

As Executive Director, Arts, Mellor will provide leadership in the development of Arts Council England’s current and future national arts strategy and policy agendas, providing a national and international overview of the arts while ensuring a strategic coherence and alignment across the organisation.

He will join Arts Council England in March 2012. Barbara Matthews will continue in her role as acting Executive Director, Arts until March when she will return to her post as Director, Theatre.