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Dreaming of a cool tea shop.

Byline: helga henry

Next weekend I will be able to live out one of my favourite daydreams.

I can pretend I run a tea shop.

But not just any tea shop. A happening tea shop with great cakes, a diverse clientele and an eclectic and thrilling line-up of live music.

I have offered my services as a volunteer at Capsule's Supersonic Festival in downtown Digbeth. Boasting a world-class programme of music, film, art (and cake!), it's the ultimate weekend music festival, without the mud. It may seem an odd thing, when you already work in one festival, to volunteer for another. But strangely that's part of the attraction.

I love to be part of the team that delivers a memorable experience for the audience and artists. I am also profoundly grateful on this occasion my responsibility does not extend beyond ensuring the water keeps boiling and monitoring cake portions.

The arts and cultural scene relies on the participation and contribution of volunteers. Volunteering is the backbone of much cultural endeavour. It doesn't get talked about very much, yet it is of enormous value.

According to the Voluntary Arts Network, volunteers "play a vital role in promoting community cohesion and pump an estimated pounds 50 million into the economy each year."

Fierce! relies every year on a magnificent volunteer army to make sure that events take place smoothly, that artists are cared for and those important audience surveys are completed. Like most cultural organisations, our directors also participate on an unpaid basis. The governance of even the largest arts institution is carried out by people who want to contribute to the success of the company and who enjoy playing a part (behind the scenes) in its artistic output.

Why else do people volunteer? Because it is fun, you meet new people and you have so many experiences you might otherwise miss out on.

I gained most of my formative management experience by sitting on voluntary boards and dealing with accounts, staff disciplinary or redundancy matters and strategic planning. Issues you might not experience in your day job until you are significantly more senior.

It appreciably enhanced my commercial know-how, not to mention my networks of contacts and friends.

So if I've whetted your appetite to get involved, why not join in? In association with Fierce!, Capsule and Germination will be screening the UK premiere of "There are no others, there is only us".

This hauntingly beautiful monochrome video projection is open to anyone from 10am to 6pm, July 24-26, as a free experience at Moor Street Station. You can work on our VIP reception, invigilation (a lovely way to spend an afternoon) and production. Want to get some great experience or simply do your bit?

Contact me at helga@fierceearth.com. And check out the lineup at Supersonic 09 at www.

capsule.org.uk/supersonic.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 20, 2009
Words:474
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