Meet: Marita McCormick-Duncan

Above: Marita McCormick-Duncan (L) with festival administrator Lyn Mackie (R) at Arts Inc. Heretaunga. They are both vital in ensuring the festival runs smoothly.

Marita McCormick-Duncan is “four for four” with the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, after starting as a volunteer in Year One and now working full time from about June as manager of ticketing and self-confessed on-site 'Box Office Bulldog'.

“I’m the one who loads all the information in the ticketing system,” she explains, calling this data-entry element of her role “the dull part”. It’s a time-consuming job but vital to get 100% correct. Marita looks forward to October when the Festival itself clicks into gear. Being on site is a buzz.

“I like the practical hands-on side of the Festival,” she admits.

Although she says she’s new to festivals, this being her first official festival role, she’s certainly no stranger to the hard work and energy it takes to pull off a multi-event gig like this. Her brother Isaac is a renowned industrial designer who has created and put up bespoke installations for various festivals and ‘happenings’ around New Zealand. Marita lends him a hand on occasion with the physical part of erecting the kit, often right up against a tight deadline.

“I do have this insanely talented brother and I’ve assisted him with rigging and wot not,” she explains.

At the Harcourts HBAF Marita is often the first face you’ll see, behind her post at the Spiegeltent welcome desk. She likens her role to a hotel concierge. “I like that role of making people feel comfortable.”

Every now and then when something goes a miss, or astray, Marita will be on hand to work out a fix. But she also loves that her job is to bring people a happy, fun or thoughtful event.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s all for fun,” she says. “It’s all here to entertain and people are coming to have a night out.”

For Marita the key to a successful festival is the people. Engaged audiences, fantastic volunteers and in-sync staff make all the difference, especially when things get busy.

“A good vibe is what’s needed,” says Marita. “When things are frictionless it doesn’t matter what the problem is people will get together and work it out.”

“The festival team is really into the festival, and really committed,” she says

When the Festival is not on, Marita works behind the scenes at Arts Inc Heretaunga. She’s known for her vast collection of hats, so she’s easy to pick out.

“My brother stopped counting at 149,” she laughs.

Marita is looking forward to Canopy

"I adore Margot's voice, I have done since I first heard it. I think her timing's amazing. I don't know so much about Kurt but having seen them perform at the pre-launch, they were awesome together -  I am fascinated to see their original work. The Nina Simone Tribute Margot did the first festival year was great, but I really want to hear her in her own skin. She's magic!"



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