I just wanted to talk a bit today about how volunteering is really important for your local theatre and the arts industry in general.
I’ve been volunteering for my local theatre for coming up to six years now. Admittedly its been on and off as life always gets in the way and I have been backwards and forward to uni.
It started off as something that I had to do for my course, I had to ‘attach’ myself to a theatre for the year and get to know how a theatre works. I met with the secretary, who is now a longstanding friend, and he agreed to let me interview him and write a report on their theatre.
I must have been working on this report for a few months, and in that time I had learnt so much from being in that creative environment. I was able to see behind the scenes, how a theatre worked, how many people it took to run it, budgeting, hierarchy etc. I also got to sit in on some rehearsals and see that creative process through to completion.
Not long after I had finished that project he invited me to be in a play that he was directing, That Face by Polly Stenham, and of course I said yes.
It gave me my confidence back in acting and heavily influenced my decision to go to university to study Drama.
Aside from what it did for me, I think it taught me that the theatre needs people. It needs dedicated people to run it, in this case everyone was volunteering their time so the theatre could be successful. The theatre needs people to write plays so it has something to show. It needs people to fund those plays. It needs people to direct the play into a cohesive artistic vision. It needs people to maintain the building, design the posters, light the stage, sell the tickets. And most importantly it needs people to go.
Volunteering at your local theatre, although its giving your time for free, is securing the future of that theatre. A lot of local theatres aren’t given enough funding, they can’t afford to pay everyone – or anyone! Any money they do get goes straight back into the productions, the building maintenance, making sure people come back – securing the future of the theatre.
Your local theatre can offer you invaluable experience, if you just offer up your time to learn everything it has to teach you. Its a community of colourful people who all have the same passion, which is to keep their small corner of the arts alive.
Time doesn’t always equal money, it can equal experience and investment in the future. All three have their own value.