Hassall, currently the deputy general manager of Sydney Theatre Company, will take up his post at the beginning of February. He replaces Janie Grace, who has been in the post in an interim capacity since May 2003. Grace took over from Christopher Nourse, the former executive director of Rambert Dance Company, when Nourse left unexpectedly only two years after his appointment.
John Talbot, English National Ballet chairman, said in a statement: "[Craig] brings tremendous flair and enthusiasm and a wide-ranging experience to the company, and we are very much looking forward to working with him. I would like to express my gratitude to Janie Grace, who allowed herself to be persuaded to extend what she intended to be a short interim role, and whose outstanding management skills have ensured that Craig is inheriting a strong company which is eager to embrace the exciting challenges that lie ahead."
At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Hassell was responsible for creating the 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, the country's largest-ever arts festival. He has also worked in management positions at Opera Australia and the Bell Shakespeare Company.