Yesterday I attended the Insights and Ideas meeting organised by Museum Galleries Scotland and Creative Scotland. I've attended these meetings regularly over the past couple of years and used to write about them on this blog. However as exactly two people regularly read that blog, then in future I'll blog about the highlights of these meetings here instead!
These meetings always feature excellent speakers and discussions over tea and small cakes. Yesterday the theme was Volunteering in the Arts.
Cassandra Barron of Voluntary Arts Scotland announced the dates of the next Voluntary Arts Week - 15 - 24 May 2015. The week celebrates voluntary cultural creativity across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. All voluntary organisations interested in creative activities can take part. She also talked about the EPIC awards, which celebrate the achievements of voluntary arts organisations. One of last years winners was Poetry in the Park, a project in Ireland that holds monthly poetry readings in a riverside park.
Leonar Blackhall next gave an inspiring talk about how she built up the volunteering project at the Black Watch Museum to co-incide with the redevelopment of the museum itself. The museum now has volunteers involved in all aspects of its work. They have developed impressive recognition and rewards to help keep volunteers motivated alongside development opportunities so volunteers can develop skills and move into new areas of volunteering. They are also very aware that volunteering needs to work hand in hand with paid staff. Overall their volunteering programme seems like a great model for any organisation wanting to use volunteers.
Finally Paul Bristow of Inverclyde Community Development Trust talked about how his organisation makes sure they 'go out there to find people' acknowledging that many people won't pro-actively look for volunteering opportunities themselves. The trust involves volunteers in historical research and they have put together graphic novels, community drama and music events to engage local people in the history of the area. He also talked about how the image of volunteering is changing, with the Westminster government forcing jobless people to volunteer. Will people become more reluctant to volunteer if they see it so frequently tied with governmental compulsion?
I was particularly interested in these discussions as I'm a regular volunteer with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, which offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities from riverside litter picks, through wildflower planting to covering the reception desk.
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