When you live in
a community, you have
an obligation to give
Eric Knight has been involved with the Festival since childhood. One of his fondest memories is taking his little sister to see a Mason Daring and Jeanie Stahl free concert at Crocker Park. It was 1976, and Marblehead locals filled the park to enjoy the summer evening. He has a similarly fond memory of taking Jean, his fiancée who later became his wife, to a Festival concert. In many ways, the Festival is the same today, continuing its legacy as the largest non-profit, free art Festival around. Now, “it has grown in size and complexity,” says Eric, “We have better organization in computers, and communication is faster and easier.”
Eric served as Treasurer from 2006-2009. He was on the Board for two years in 2009-2011. In 2011 and 2012, he was Vice President. He has been on the Nominating Committee, Finance Committee and Database Committee.
During his first year as Treasurer for the Art Auction, he was told that a guy with wireless technology was going to streamline all the computers so they could automate the whole checkout process. Being a computer guy himself, Eric was immediately suspicious and brought back-up with him. It turned out that none of the wireless technology worked because of the many cell phones in the room, and the whole system crashed. Eric had to shut down the checkout station and start sorting paper notes – people wanted to go home and there was a huge line. Challenging situations tend to bring out the best in people who are trying to make something work for a good cause. He says, “I looked down and there was a woman next to me sitting on the floor, sorting notes without being asked. I said, ‘That is a special person!’ We have remained best friends to this day.”
Since becoming involved with the administrative aspects of the Festival, Eric has observed how programmatic things have changed. He says, “We added the Tea Room and Mixed Media and took out Boxes in Bloom. At one point, Boxes in Bloom was an integral part of the Festival, but certain years call for different activities.” Eric eventually, like all Board members, realized that in order for the Festival to manifest each year, he needed to be flexible and open to new ideas while complying with non-profit regulations. This Festival “began as a group of people who used to get together and drink some wine, trying to promote the arts and evolved to an organization that demands time, skill, and talent from officers and chair people,” Eric affirms.
The Festival is a celebration of love for the town and is unique to living in Marblehead. Knight recalls, “I have made real true friends that I have gotten to know through the Festival. You find fascinating, talented, interesting people who love the Festival as much as you do.”
When asked about his favorite exhibit, Eric says he has always loved Student Art. “The idea is directly communicated without embellishment. It is honest and pure,” he says. It is also reflective of the ever-youthful quality the Festival began with and continues with today.
Knight has always believed, “When you live in a community, you have an obligation to give something back; you have to do something to make it better.” Eric and Jean Knight currently reside in Marblehead and serve as two of several Directors of the Marblehead Arts Festival Corporation who elect officers at their annual meeting.