Help Musicians CEO James Ainscough has been appointed CEO of the Royal Albert Hall (cap. 5,272), following the departure of Craig Hassall last month.


Ainscough, who will take up the position in late spring, previously worked at the Royal Albert Hall for a decade from January 2008, first as director of finance and administration and then as chief operating officer. He will be tasked with the delivery of the Hall’s post Covid-19 business plan and the ambition to reach wider audiences. Dan Freeman, the Hall’s chief operating officer, will continue to act as interim CEO until Ainscough starts. 


At the helm of the Help Musicians charity, Ainscough oversaw the distribution of £20m of financial hardship funding, the provision of a multi-million-pound career-rebuilding support programme, and the launch of the Music Minds Matter charity providing mental health care for all involved in the music industry.


Ainscough said only a “really special” opportunity such as a return to the Royal Albert Hall could have tempted him to leave Help Musicians: “There are multiple challenges ahead but those are what most energise me. I could not be more excited to return to work with the Hall’s dedicated team. Together we will ensure the Hall offers the most amazing events and experiences to the most diverse audiences. And recognising its privilege as a prominent and much-loved venue, we will do all we can to support and nurture the wider music ecosystem of which we are an integral part.”


Royal Albert Hall president Ian McCulloch said, “James combines a passion for the promotion of music and cultural enlightenment with the vision and business skills required to lead the Hall through its next phase, applying financial prudence to extending our reach and our artistic ambitions. The Royal Albert Hall will benefit greatly from James’ experience, talent, enthusiasm and determination. We are delighted that he will soon be re-joining the team.” 


Separately, The Royal Albert Hall is the subject of the first in a new series of AAA Explores venue profile films that go behind the scenes at the UK’s leading performance spaces to examine the facilities, their teams, key initiatives, and the flexibility the spaces offer.


See the AAA Explores Royal Albert Hall trailer HERE.