Volunteers at the center of community arts

Published 12:08 pm Sunday, May 21, 2017

Volunteers are a force for art in our community. The Austin Area Commission for the Arts could not serve the community the way we do without the support of volunteers. Because of the broad scope of activities and events the AACA offers, there are volunteer roles for every age and stage of life and every personality.

What do volunteers do for the AACA?

Behind-the-scenes roles include working on planning committees, talent scouting for performers at the Paramount and/or artists for our galleries and simple building maintenance tasks such as repairing nail holes or touching up paint in the ArtWorks galleries.

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While committee work isn’t for everyone, those with knowledge and expertise in marketing, logistics, building maintenance, small business operations, non profit best practices and the arts make significant contributions to the AACA’s vision and mission.

Volunteer roles filled with personal interaction include retail clerking at the ArtWorks Center, serving concessions at the Paramount Theatre and greeting guests at the ArtWorks Festival.

Kelsey Ritchie, AACA operations manager, trains and schedules volunteers. She works with many different schedules including students, snow birds, retirees, full time professionals and stay-at-home parents.

Volunteers work once a week, once a month and some even once a year at the festival. We insist on a no-guilt environment. Volunteer when you want, in the role(s) you want and earn our grateful thanks. Say no for any reason or no reason and know that you will still be treated with respect and affection.

As an organization, the AACA strives to maximize volunteers in these roles which enables us to pay artists, art instructors and performers. As a patron, you should know that the AACA is compensating the professionals who perform at our venues and teach our classes. We believe fair compensation for artists is ethical and also ensures a high level of quality of our programming.

Volunteers launched all three of the AACA’s program branches: Paramount Theatre in the early 1990s, Austin ArtWorks Festival in 2012 and Austin ArtWorks Center in 2014.

We are grateful to the community leaders who poured time, energy, expertise, blood, sweat and tears into these projects. It’s hard to remember that there was a time in Austin when not everyone believed preserving a historic theatre was a good investment or attracting thousands of people to an arts festival was possible.

Because a few individuals believed and worked, we now enjoy the benefits of those community assets including a positive economic impact. (I wonder what arts idea will bubble up from our community next?)

In 2016, volunteers donated over 6,000 hours of labor to the AACA. (Thank you to each and every person contributing to that total!) That is the equivalent of $120,000. As I said, volunteers are a force for art in our community.

To learn more about volunteering with the AACA, please contact Kelsey Ritchie at kelsey@austinareaarts.org or 507-434-0934.

Paramount Theatre

Paul McCartney Tribute by Let Em In with D.C. Drifters, June 22  at 7 p.m.

ArtWorks Center

ArtRocks Jam Session, May 26 at 7 p.m. [Last jam of the season, resuming in September].

$ Kids Studio: Sunflower on Canvas, May 27 at 10:30 a.m.

Find out more at www.austinareaarts.org