Michael Lynch. Source: News Limited.
Michaela Boland, ‘Michael Lynch quits as chief of Hong Kong arts project’, The Australian, 13 February 2015
Former Sydney Opera House boss Michael Lynch will return to live in Sydney later this year, after having signalled his intention to retire as chief executive of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, one of the most complex and ambitious arts projects in the world.
Lynch relocated to Hong Kong in 2011 to steer the government-funded $HK21.6 billion ($3.6bn) development of 17 arts and cultural venues on a 40-hectare site. Last year he signed a contract until mid-2016 but yesterday he told The Australian recent events had forced a rethink, precipitating this week’s unexpected announcement he would exit in August.
“I came for three years, extended for two and I’ll be leaving a year into that,” he said.
“Our three (remaining) parents died last year within a few months, I’m 64 years old and my leg is pretty bad, we’ve had a shitty year and we’ve felt too far away,” he said. “It just seems like the right time to come home.”
A former director of the Australian Council and popular figure in the arts, Lynch will have spent almost 13 years away from Sydney. He went to London initially to run the Southbank Centre, then Melbourne, where his wife and fellow veteran arts administrator, Chrissy Sharp, was inaugural director of Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.
He said Hong Kong media reports that Sharp’s recent illness was the key reason for their return were only partly true.