The Benalla-born founder of the Bald Archy Prize, Peter Batey, has been remembered as a legend of theatre, who broke down "pretentious" art.
Mr Batey, aged 86, died on Friday when his car left Muttama Road at Coolac near Gundagai about 2.30pm.
The Bald Archy Prize Facebook page said he might have had a heart attack.
It said his death as "unthinkable".
Members of the arts community and former winners of the satirical prize, which was created in 1994, have paid tribute to Mr Batey.
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"It's fair to say Peter changed my life with the Bald Archys," said artist James Tennant.
"It gave me something to strive for and it gave me belief that anything is possible and for that I am forever in Peter's debt."
Eastern Riverina Arts artistic director Scott Howie said Mr Batey had a deep impact.
"I think he's a bit of a maverick, he had a big personality and he did an amazing job with the Bald Archy as he created something that really resonated with people across our region," Mr Howie said.
"He made it available to our region and broke down the perception that art is snobby and elitist and his passion and commitment to this community will always be remembered.
"He deflated egos in the arts world to make it fun and meaningful to people's lives."
Mr Batey was born in Benalla in 1933.
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