After a period of significant disruption during the pandemic that left the Royal Albert Hall carrying a £20.74m debt to government from the Cultural Recovery Fund, the venue’s management has been restructured and Lucy Noble has been appointed its first artistic director.

Noble, who is chair of the National Arenas Association, was artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall from 2013 to 2021, with responsibility for programming, engagement, production and technical and partnerships. Following the departure of director of visitor experience Anthony Winter Brown, in July 2022, Noble will now oversee Brown’s commercial portfolio including catering, tours, merchandise, retail and visitor experience.

A statement from the venue’s PR said the creation of the new role will allow Noble to “take a holistic artistic view of the brand and focus of the Hall and ensure that we continue to succeed as one of the most famous venues in the world.”

It said the new role will involve a renewed focus on the number of own-produced and co-promoted shows, and an ambition to curate the hires and shape the artistic direction of the Hall.

Noble said she was honoured and delighted to be appointed to the role: “In recent years, we have moved from being predominantly a hall for hire to presenting and promoting around 70 events each year out of around 400 events in the auditorium. I am particularly looking forward to now bringing the visitor experience side of the business within my remit and to support the teams to deliver world-class experiences to our visitors while we continue to focus on the quality, diversity and commerciality of events in order to attract the widest possible audience.”

Meanwhile, Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall has created the role of chief operating officer. The role will oversee all the financial and operational elements of the Hall, including building and facilities. The Hall’s current director of building and facilities, Sara Crema, will leave at the end of 2021 and the director of finance and administration, Anupam Ganguli, will leave in April 2022. The statement said their departure would provide “the opportunity for the new chief operating officer to shape the role and lead the Hall through its financial recovery.”

Hassall said, “2021 is the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary and we could never have imagined being forced to close for this milestone. As we emerge from the pandemic, this is a critical time in the organisation’s history and Lucy’s experience and creativity will shape the artistic vision of the organisation. As chair of the National Arenas Association, Lucy holds a leading role in the industry, and she will be a terrific artistic director for the Hall, balanced by the new chief operating officer whose role will be crucial for the Hall’s finances and the safeguarding of the Grade I listed building.”

The portfolio of external affairs, headed up by Louise Halliday, will retains its responsibility for box office, marketing, PR, public affairs, digital strategy, insight, audience development and the archive. Susan Gent, as the secretary to the corporation, completes the streamlined executive team.