Shock at death of leading arts figure

ARTS Minister John O’Donoghue led tributes yesterday to Wexford Festival Opera chief executive Jerome Hynes, who died suddenly at the age of 48.

"His passing is a great shock to all in the arts community, both nationally and internationally" said the minister.

Former arts minister Michael D Higgins described the death of Mr Hynes, who was also deputy chairman of the Arts Council, as "an enormous loss to the world of culture".

Mr Hynes was pronounced dead after he reportedly collapsed while making an announcement on stage in Wexford during a meet and greet for the Wexford Opera Festival.

A native of Galway, Mr Hynes was instrumental in the international success of the Galway-based Druid Theatre Company, overseeing it as administrator and general manager through a period of great growth and expansion. His sister, Gary Hynes, is also a well known figure in the theatre world.

"He was an incredibly skilled manager," said former Druid general manager Jane Daly, who took over when Mr Hynes left the company.

"His was a guiding hand in some of the most successful arts organisations in the country," she said.

After Druid, Mr Hynes moved on to Wexford in 1988, where he brought his knack for success to the Wexford Opera Festival, where he was general manager and later chief executive.

His stewardship of the Wexford festival saw it double in size and reach 100% occupancy a singular achievement in the world of the arts.

He was central to plans for the redevelopment of the 19th century Theatre Royal in Wexford a plan that would see the construction of a €23 million, 750-seat, state of the art auditorium in the town.

A tireless worker, Mr Hynes was also deeply involved in many other arts organisations at one time or another, including the National Concert Hall, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Dunamaise Centre for the Arts in Portlaoise, and the Arts from Ireland organisation, based in The Kennedy Centre in Washington.

Jerome Hynes is survived by his wife Alma and three sons Conor, Feargal and Robbie as well as by his sisters, Gary and Aedhmar, and his brother Donal.

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