Home / Urban  / Jo Duncan talks leading the way for one of the biggest events in NZ

Jo Duncan talks leading the way for one of the biggest events in NZ

As March 8 marks International Women’s Day, we chat to some female leaders in the leadership space on challenges they face and their advice to other women who are aspiring to be leaders.

In this piece we chat to Jo Duncan, CEO of Art Fairs New Zealand and Australia, about the mammoth task of helming of Aotearoa Art Fair, one of the biggest events Auckland sees every year.

Held in the middle of April, Jo Duncan and her team are tasked with executing one of the largest annual events the city has seen, the Aotearoa Art Fair.

Coming off the back of another large event, Sydney Contemporary, Duncan says that her motivation to keep creating this widescale event comes from the excitement of the first day.

“As an event organiser, the energy and passion that go into creating such significant cultural events like the Aotearoa Art Fair and Sydney Contemporary are truly invigorating,” she says.

“Seeing the reactions of the attendees, the artists, and the overall impact the fair has on the artistic community and the broader public. Witnessing the connections made, the collaborations formed, and the art celebrated is incredibly fulfilling and keeps me inspired to continue pushing boundaries and raising the bar for each successive event.”

As one of the largest events in the country, it is not all smooth sailing, with Duncan saying the event calls for numerous challenges for her to navigate.

In the events and arts space, Duncan says that when it comes to challenges, her strength of seeing diversity and inclusivity is even more important in enriching the industry.

Read more: International Women’s Day: Celebrating the female entrepreneurs of NZ

“One of the most significant challenges has been balancing the diverse needs and expectations of various stakeholders, including artists, galleries, sponsors, and attendees. Maintaining open lines of communication, fostering strong relationships, and remaining adaptable to changing circumstances have been crucial in overcoming these challenges,” Duncan adds.

Jo Duncan.

“I try to confidently assert my knowledge, lead with integrity, always have time for members of my team (who I might add are almost all female!) and champion the contributions of women in the field.”

Duncan explains that especially in the events management field, more than ever they are constantly trying to find solutions for all the unforeseen obstacles that come their way.

Being at the helm of such a large event, Duncan looks at these experiences as a learning experience for women who are aspiring to gun for that top dog position.

As a CEO herself, she says that the biggest lesson she has learnt is to cultivate: cultivate self-confidence, cultivate a strong support network and cultivate personal and professional development.

“Seek out mentors and role models, embrace opportunities to learn and grow, and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and others. Remember that your unique perspective and experiences are valuable assets that can drive positive change and innovation,” she says.

“By lifting each other up and breaking down barriers, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future for all aspiring leaders in the arts and beyond.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

Review overview