Alexandra Palace chief executive to leave in 2022

Louise Stewart has spearheaded the Muswell Hill venue since 2015

Louise Stewart has spearheaded the Muswell Hill venue since 2015 - Credit: Alexandra Palace

The chief executive of Alexandra Palace is stepping down early next year.

Louise Stewart will take on the role of CEO for Chester Race Company, having spent six years at the helm of the Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust.

The Muswell Hill venue’s deputy chief executive Emma Dagnes will become acting CEO when Louise leaves.

“I’m so proud of what has been achieved during this time,” the outgoing exec said.

“Our team, supporters and funders have put in so much effort to improve how our heritage is cared for and to develop our amazing event and learning programmes to ensure that the park and palace contribute positively to the lives of millions of people each year.  

“The charity is stronger and more resilient and I leave it in very capable hands.”

Louise has overseen the running of the palace through the coronavirus pandemic.  

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Financial challenges worsened by the lockdowns led to the venue furloughing 96% of its staff and removing all 140 casual workers from its roster.  

Dozens of full-time staff were made redundant, as it asked the public to help with fundraising to keep the local institution afloat.

Certain programmes continued or were created during the pandemic including Covid-19 testing centres, food distribution hubs, entertainment in care homes and music performances streamed online. 

However the Muswell Hill venue still faced a deficit of millions, as Louise warned that the financial troubles threatened its future.  

Following the stark warning, a £2.9m government grant ensured Ally Pally’s survival. It is now back open hosting events including ice rink sessions, theatre and live music.

Chair of trustees Cllr Anne Stennett said Louise had served the palace with “great vision and skill”, as she wished her “every success” in her new role. 

The venue said Emma's appointment will provide “continuity of leadership” to rebuild after “significant challenges” over the last two years.  

The incoming chief exec said she was “honoured” to be given the role and was looking forward to delivering “spectacular experiences”. 

Live music has now returned to the venue including by Groove Armada, Sam Fender, London Grammar and Tom Grennan.

Educational activities for people with dementia have also started again, with festive activities and the darts lined up before the end of the year.

Every year Ally Pally welcomes around 4m visitors and costs approximately £3.6m to run. It opened in 1873.

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