A key figure in the histories of Spoleto Festival USA and the Gibbes Museum of Art died Saturday.

Eric Friberg, who is credited with having shepherded the $6 million renovation of the Memminger Auditorium, was 66. He served eight years on the festival’s board. He was also vice president of the Gibbes’ board of directors and was to be the museum’s next board president when he died.

“When Spoleto was in a very bad situation he came in, joined the board and set out to create a long-range plan for us,” Nigel Redden, director of Spoleto, told The Post and Courier. “That plan ended up paving a very clear path for us. It brought us out of a very desperate situation.”

Friberg’s death is sudden and a major blow to Charleston’s arts community and Lowcountry culture in general. Friberg had just attended a fund-raising function holiday party on Friday. No cause of death was reported. The Gibbes will issue an official response later today. —John Stoehr