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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Blander

New Festival president: ‘Everyone has a story’

Updated: Mar 21, 2023


For Jodi-Tatiana Charles, the town of Marblehead is her office, whether she’s making calls from a bench at Fort Sewall or leading a meeting at a table in the Muffin Shop. She seems to know most people in town and is quick to start conversations with passersby.


“Everyone has a story,” she said.


Charles is a marketing strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, marathon runner and — now — the new president of the Marblehead Festival of Arts. The festival will run July 1-4 this year.


“I love community building,” she told the Marblehead Current. “It’s the way I was raised.” Charles’ parents immigrated from Haiti and settled in Brockton, where she grew up. Marblehead, though, is definitely home to Charles. She’s been here for more than a decade.


“People here come through for each other,” she said.


Charles has volunteered with the MFoA for a decade, leading children’s programs and working on the annual champagne reception. She took over as president of the festival in October.


“It’s the longest running community-based festival in the state with all volunteers,” she said. “We have more than 400 volunteers. I want to make sure the legacy and history live on.”



Jodi-Tatiana Charles pauses for a photo after a meeting at the Muffin Shop.

CURRENT PHOTO / LEIGH BLANDER


Charles has been working about 45 hours a week on the festival, meeting with volunteers on popular events like Painting the Town and the Devereux Beach sand sculpture contest. She’s also bringing back some old favorites, including the literary festival and writing competition.


People can expect some new additions this year, too.


“We’re adding a 5K race this May,” Charles said. “That’s the art of physicality.”


Also new, artists will paint 2-to-4-inch orbs that will be hidden along trails in town for people to find and keep. Charles wants to work with local restaurants to get them more involved in the festival. And “there will be more theater and music,” she said.


Charles has three main goals for the festival this year:

— Attract a younger crowd of people 25-40 years old. “We need to think about what we’re doing for them,” she said.


— Partner more closely with artists and organizations throughout Essex County to make the festival more of a regional event.


— Raise money for student scholarships.


She also hopes people start to see the festival as more than just a weekend event.


“There are so many ways to touch the festival,” she said. “There’s the holiday marketplace in December and the logo contest in February. In May, we’ll focus on restaurants and the 5K. In June, there’s the champagne reception.”


Charles runs LCG Brands, a marketing firm with international clients. LCG stands for La Capoise Galerie, a nod to her Haitian heritage. She has worked as deputy press secretary for Gov. Mitt Romney, a producer for the “Matty in the Morning” radio show, and on New England Cable News. She hosts the podcast Minding Your Business, which has featured several Marbleheaders.


In all of her jobs, storytelling has been key, Charles says. And the festival will be no different.


“We want to capture and share the history of the festival,” she said. “We are a town of talented people. It’s mind blowing.”


Learn more about the Marblehead Festival of Arts at marbleheadfestival.org. Leigh Blander Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.


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