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Arts maestro Craig Hassall to return home as Opera Australia CEO

London-based Australian Craig Hassall has been appointed as Opera Australia’s new chief executive officer after a four-month international search. The former managing director of the English National Ballet said his time in the UK has given him a different perspective and objective view of the Australian arts scene.


Craig Hassall CEO Opera Australia
LONDON based NSW expat Craig Hassall has been appointed CEO of Opera Australia.  He will relocate to Sydney later this year to head the largest arts company in Australia with over 300 permanent artists and staff.

Hassall told the Australian Times that he had ”loved living in London” these last eight years thanks to the “helpful” people and the positive way that Australians were “treated and perceived” in the UK.  His time here has seen him enjoy acclaim as Managing Director of the English National Ballet (ENB) and Artistic Advisor to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

He added that the “can-do and flexible attitudes” of Australians were central to their positive perception and accomplishments. He encouraged younger Aussies to embrace global opportunities.

“Don’t feel that you are trapped by London or Australia”, he added.

Dr Ziggy Switkowski, Chairman of Opera Australia, said in a statement that Hassall had “leadership and an understanding of the international cultural environment in which Opera Australia is now operating.”

Hassall told the Australian Times that his experience in London had given him “an objective view of the Australian arts scene” and going away from Australia had given him “a different perspective.”

Hassall’s career began with the (then) Australian Opera in 1987 as a Planning Co-ordinator.  He rose through the ranks, after a short stint away, to become Marketing Manager.  His career highlights include becoming General Manager (Image, Special Events and Olympic Arts Festival) for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and then Deputy General Manager for the Sydney Theatre Company.

In early 2005, Hassall moved to London to take up his appointment at the ENB.  On his departure in 2012, the ENB issued a statement that the Australian had “overseen its most successful year to date”.  Last year Hassall became Chief Operating Officer of international touring promoter, Raymond Gubbay, which has a longstanding relationship with the ENB.