Royal Albert Hall appoints new CEO James Ainscough

The Royal Albert Hall has announced the appointment of James Ainscough to the position of Chief Executive Officer.  James will lead the delivery of the Hall’s post Covid-19 business plan and its ambition to reach even wider audiences.

James will join in late spring, 2023, from Help Musicians, a charity for professional musicians of all genres, both in work and in retirement, where he is CEO. The pandemic was truly a crisis for many musicians and, under James’s leadership, Help Musicians gave essential support, including distributing £20m of financial hardship funding, providing a multi-million-pound career-rebuilding support programme, and launching the Music Minds Matter charity providing mental health care for the entire music industry.

James was formerly with the Royal Albert Hall from January 2008 to December 2017 initially as Director of Finance and Administration and then as Chief Operating Officer.  He oversaw strategic and day-to-day artistic and commercial operations, customer services, marketing, fundraising, facilities and business services.

James said: “The Royal Albert Hall has always been close to my heart. It has been a privilege to lead Help Musicians for the past five years and the charity is in now in good spirit with a clear strategy, a strong sense of purpose, and a wonderful team of staff, trustees and partners. Only a really special opportunity, like ‘coming home’ to the Royal Albert Hall, could have tempted me to leave. There are multiple challenges ahead but that is what most energises 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.”

Ian McCulloch, President of the Royal Albert Hall 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.”

Craig Hassall stepped down from being CEO on 16 December 2022.  Dan Freeman, the Hall’s Chief Operating Officer, will continue to act as Interim CEO until James starts.