Friday, February 10, 2012

Make Art! Make Art! A tribute to the Volunteers in Arts

“Amazing that the human race has taken enough time out from thinking about food or sex to create the arts and sciences.”
Mason Cooley

“Fair play to those who dare to dream!” - Marketa Irglova

Tomorrow I am going to a second reading of a play that I have just been cast in. I am a member of a theatrical group in Redlands in Brisbane Australia. I return to the boards after a year and a half break. I am excited and nervous. I’ve been cast as Roy in the play Cosi. This play is known to many Aussies as it was made into a movie years ago. Google Cosi play or movie to learn more if you haven’t heard about it.
I’ve been acting since I was 12! In amateur theatre groups and also for a time full time! But mostly as a volunteer! Hollywood has yet to discover me but I have been recognised by my peers in amateur theater! I never give up hope of that Oscar award!

As I sat with my group recently reading the play it got me thinking about how volunteers in the arts contribute to society and how we fail to recognise this important cog in the wheel of volunteerism.

I think that it is a pity that many people, who perform in the arts area don’t consider themselves to be volunteers and the people who enjoy their service don’t see them as volunteers. But volunteers they are in my opinion.

Is it because we often perceive volunteers to be people who are helping those who need a hand or assisting those who need companionship and support etc.

The UN Definition Of Volunteering

“There are three key defining characteristics of volunteering.

First the activity should not be undertaken primarily for financial reward

Second, the activity should be undertaken voluntarily, according to an individual’s own free-will

Third, the activity should be of benefit to someone other than the volunteer, or to society at large,
although it is recognised that volunteering brings significant benefit to the volunteer as well.”

Volunteering in the arts falls into all of these categories. What joy do the arts bring to the community? How many people attend plays put on by volunteers in many nations for example. How many people leave these performances enriched, happy, uplifted and touched!

Is this not what it’s all about? The sheer pleasure and joy that can be brought to a fellow human being through art??

I propose that this area is a neglected if not forgotten aspect of volunteerism!

I should know. One year I filled out a survey that asked if I had participated as a volunteer in the previous 12 months. I said no! Even though I was acting with a community theatre for those 12 months! How many people do the same year in and year out!

The two most important things I love about acting are:

•Feeding off the audience - only a performer will get this – it’s that feeling that you have when you have the audience in the palm of your hand – knowing that they believe in your character absolutely – knowing that they have entered that world where reality is suspended and they have bought into who you are in the performance! It may be an ego thing but that is a must in performing! The knowledge that you have performed!

•The joy that people get! The joy in faces as they leave the theatre. Arts mean joy!

I speak of the acting volunteers! But I also speak out for the volunteers who sing their rock or jazz or blues. I speak for the artists who volunteer their drawings. I speak for the artists who volunteer their writings, prose and poetry.

I speak for the amateur drama groups around the globe. Embrace your volunteers and recognise the important work that they do!

…So, take what's inside you and make big, bold choices. And for those who can't speak for themselves, use bold voices. And make friends and love well, bring art to this place. And make this world better for the whole human race.
-- Jamie Lee Curtis

“Make art! Make Art!” Glen Hansard on receiving his Oscar for best song for the movie “Once” 2007 Academy awards

And Ive attached that magical moment here!Just click on this blogs heading!


  1. Hi DJ. You may be interested in the Cultural Volunteer newsletter from my friend and colleague Lynn Blackadder.

    Lynn is a fellow consultant and works with many arts organisations here in the UK on volunteering issues.


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