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Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall is to step down at the start of the 2023 season, having accepted a role as president and chief executive of Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hassall joined the Hall in 2017 from his previous role as CEO of Opera Australia. He led plans for the Hall’s 150th anniversary in 2021, and subsequently its recovery through the Covid-19 Pandemic, which saw the Hall’s first closure since World War II.

During his six-year tenure, Hassall oversaw a multimillion programme of refurbishment of the Grade I listed venue, growth in the Hall’s own concert promotions as well as initiatives that aimed to diversify the venue’s reach and engagement work.

Hassall said, “After six wonderful years at the Hall it is time for me to bid a very fond farewell. I have genuinely loved working with the team, and despite all the recent challenges we have faced, it has been a huge privilege to lead the Royal Albert Hall through some great times, and some daunting ones.”

Royal Albert Hall president Ian McCulloch said, “During this tenure, Craig has accomplished a great deal for the good of the Hall and the wider cultural sector. He has played a pivotal role in sustaining us through the Covid-19 pandemic, in enhancing our reputation and in enabling the Hall to reach even wider audiences. He will be leaving us with our deep gratitude and goodwill.”

Hassall will relocate to Cleveland to join Playhouse Square in early 2023, after completing the London Christmas season and the bedding in of the annual Cirque du Soleil season.

He will lead the second largest theatre district in the United States, with 11 venues in total. He replaces outgoing CEO Gina Vernaci, who retires in February after a 39-year career with the organisation.

In addition to his role as chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, Hassall also held the chief executive position at Opera Australia and was managing director of the English National Ballet. He was also chief operating officer at Raymond Gubbay Limited, and held senior artistic roles for major projects including the 2000 and 2012 Olympic Games in Sydney and London.

The Hall is to announce plans for Hassall’s replacement in due course.