Board & Founding Patrons


  • Damian Downes is Head of Governance and Corporate Affairs at the Educational Research Centre. Until March 2019 he was College Secretary and Registrar at the National College of Art and Design. Prior to that he was the Chief Executive at Kilkenny Arts Festival from 2007 to 2011. His other work in the arts includes Business Manager the Helix and Finance Manager at the Irish Film Institute. He has lived and worked in the United States, Switzerland, Germany and France. In 2012 he was a judge of the Irish Times Theatre Awards. Damian has an MA in Communication and Cultural Studies from DCU (2001), an MBA from the Smurfit Business School at UCD (2005) and at Post Graduate Diploma in Corporate Governance, also from UCD (2015).

    (Appointed as Chair 29 May 2019. Appointed to Board 06 March 2018)

  • Jane Brennan has been an actor for over 40 years and has worked with all the major Irish theatre companies. Recent work includes: DruidShakespeare: Richard III, (Druid/Abbey Theatre/Lincoln Centre, 2018), The Beacon by Nancy Harris, (Druid/ Gate Theatre, 2019) and she directed ‘Daniel Carroll/14 Voices from the Bloodied Field’, (Abbey/Croke Park 2020). Jane also co-founded b*spoke Theatre Company with fellow actor Alison McKenna, producing work from 2001-2009.

    Her film and TV work includes the Academy Award nominated and BAFTA winning Brooklyn, Herself, A Good Woman is Hard to Find, Intermission, The Tudors, Striking Out, Love/Hate and Hidden Assets. She received an Irish Times Theatre Award, Best Actress, for Alice Trilogy, written and directed by Tom Murphy and an Irish Film and Television Award, Best Supporting Actress, for Brooklyn.

    (Appointed 13 March 2019)

  • Padraic Ferry is currently a board member of Druid Theatre Company and Inner City Renewal Group.

    Previously, he was chairman of Galway Arts Festival and Macnas Theatre Company. He is founder and managing partner of Ferrys Solicitors.

    (Appointed 27 January 2022)

  • Michelle Hoctor is the Marketing and Communications Director at Engineers Ireland, the professional membership body for engineers in Ireland, driving its programme of work around Marketing, Communications, Advocacy, Policy, Public Affairs, and its STEM education programme in schools. She worked as a Government Press Adviser for over four years, including for the Minister for Arts at the then Dept. of Arts, Sport and Tourism.  She was employed by the Arts Council as Press Officer and as its Acting Director of Communications; in RTÉ and at Music Network. She holds a BA and a H. Dip in Arts Administration (UCD) and Diplomas in European Humanities and Management.  Michelle was a member of the 1987 National Youth Theatre. 

    (Appointed 01 September 2021)

  • Lorraine Maye is currently the Director of Cork Midsummer Festival, one of Ireland’s largest multidisciplinary arts festivals. Using the city as the stage and inspiration, the Festival supports the development and presentation of new work by artists at all stages of their careers and collaborates directly with communities to realise participative projects. She has a wealth of experience in festivals and events, having worked in a variety of roles for events both nationally and internationally including the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, Cork Film Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and Temple Bar Cultural Trust. She holds a H.Dip in Arts Administration from NUI,G and a Diploma in Public Relations from the PRII.

    (Appointed 9 December 2020)

  • Professor Chris Morash became the inaugural Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin in 2014 and was appointed as the Vice-Provost/Chief Academic Officer of Trinity College Dublin in 2016. His work on Irish culture extends from his pioneering 1996 study, Writing the Irish Famine, to his 2002 History of Irish Theatre (which won the Theatre Book Prize), to A History of the Media in Ireland (2009). His most recent works are Mapping Irish Theatre (with Shaun Richards, 2014), and The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre (co-edited with Nicholas Grene, 2016). Prior to his appointment to Trinity, Chris Morash worked in Maynooth University. He was the first chair of the Compliance Committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (2009-2014), and was elected to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 2007. Originally from Canada, he is married with three adult children.

    (Appointed 04 September 2018)

Founding Patrons

Brian Friel
Playwright (1929-2015)
Tom Hickey
Actor (1944-2021)
Garry Hynes
Theatre Director
Tom Murphy
Playwright (1935-2018)
Phyllis Ryan
Actress, Independent Theatre Producer (1920-2011)