Playhouse Square today announced that Royal Albert Hall Chief Executive Craig Hassall has been named its new president and chief executive officer, replacing retiring CEO Gina Vernaci.
Hassall, 57, has held senior roles in performing arts management at some of the world’s most recognizable venues, events and organizations, including his current role at one of Europe’s leading venues. He now will head one of North America’s top performing arts centers in Playhouse Square, which is the second largest performing arts center in the United States with 11 performance spaces.
“Craig is a visionary and innovator who brings unmatched ability in operations, a broad, international experience base and deep relationships across the performing arts industry,” said Amy Brady, chair of the Playhouse Square Board of Trustees and Chief Information Officer at KeyBank. “We are thrilled to bring one of the world’s top artistic leaders to Cleveland as we continue to build on our position of strength and expand our local, national and international impact.”
Home to seven resident companies and celebrating its Centennial anniversary in 2022, Playhouse Square also has the largest touring Broadway season ticket base in North America. Playhouse Square has been an economic catalyst for downtown Cleveland by developing the theater district to include the Crowne Plaza Hotel, street level dining, office space and residential properties. This includes a 34-story apartment tower known as The Lumen, the largest residential construction project undertaken downtown in 40 years.
“Playhouse Square is a dynamic, visionary organization with a great history of accomplishment and leadership in the performing arts industry,” said Hassall. “It’s poised to play an even bigger role and I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to partner with the Board of Trustees and this talented staff to take Playhouse Square to the next level.”
Under his leadership, the Royal Albert Hall has grown its catalog of events produced, increased revenues and broadened the reach of the venue to become a major destination within London.
Hassall will relocate to the Cleveland area to join Playhouse Square in early 2023 after completing the London Christmas season and the bedding in of the annual Cirque du Soleil season.
Hassall is a mainstay in the international theater community, with decades of experience operating and curating major venues in Europe and Australia. In addition to his role as chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, he 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, a prominent commercial promoter in the UK, and held senior artistic roles for major projects including the 2000 and 2012 Olympic Games in Sydney and London.