Chris Campbell. File photo

Tourism London’s sudden split with Chris Campbell won’t stop the city on its quest to build its reputation as a “music city,” promoters and city officials say.

Campbell was director of culture and entertainment at the organization until this week, as first reported by The Free Press, and largely credited with wooing the Junos and other big music events to London.

“Chris has created some big shoes to fill. He’s done a great deal of work advancing London as a music city over the last few years,” Coun. Shawn Lewis, a representative on the Tourism London board, said Friday.

“I mean, it’s hard to miss the fact that we just hosted the Junos. He’s been a very strong asset. But he’s built a foundation . . . I’m confident that it’s only on to bigger and better things for us in the future.”

Tourism London board chair Bob Usher would say only that Campbell and the organization “parted ways.”

“I have absolutely no comment to make other than it was a mutual agreement and (we) parted ways,” he said, directing all questions to Tourism London’s general manager Cheryl Finn.

Finn confirmed Campbell was “no longer with our organization” but refused to say more about what led to his departure, citing a human resources process she wasn’t at liberty to discuss.

“We wish him all of the best in his future endeavours,” she added.

Campbell did not respond to requests for comment.

He was a key figure in London’s plans to brand itself a “music city,” landing big-ticket events such as the Canadian Country Music Awards in 2016, largely seen by industry experts as a test run for the Junos, and bringing the Country Music Association of Ontario’s annual celebration to the city three times.

Allan Reid, head of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, credited Campbell with convincing Junos officials that London was capable of hosting the celebration of Canada’s top musical talent.

The Junos took over the city in March.

Mike Manuel of the London Musical Hall said he expected Campbell would continue to help build up London’s reputation within the music industry.

“He has championed our music city,” Manuel said, declining to say any more because he’s a member of the tourism board.

“There’s no discounting the fact that he’s done great work for this city,” Finn said, adding the work Campbell led will continue at Tourism London.

“Chris has really developed that business and had shown that it is an important piece of what we’re doing. The entertainment, culture and arts portfolio is absolutely imperative to the business that we do,” Finn said.

So, who will take up the mantle?

A replacement has not yet been named.

“We’re just not at that point right now,” Finn said.

Campbell, who worked as director of marketing at Budweiser Gardens before joining the tourism agency five years ago, marks the second big name now divorced from Tourism London. Longtime director John Winston retired earlier this year and Finn, previously the director of sport tourism, was named to the top job in June.

Lewis said London will need to find the right person to fill the role, but added he believes the successor can build on Campbell’s work.

“Because we’ve built this presence in terms of being able to attract high-end events and being able to host them, it’s also built confidence in the local industry . . . and (with) our private sector partners,” he said. “The momentum carries forward.”

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