As mentioned in previous Art Feast posts I took an early retirement/voluntary redundancy deal last year and since then I have been looking for interesting things to do. This so far has included being a volunteer for the Giant Sea Odyssey; sowing seeds in the name of art with Rebecca Chesney and exploring some of the art galleries the city has to offer.
I was aware that the Biennial welcomed volunteers, as a friend of mine did it 2 years ago and really enjoyed the experience. I applied a few months ago and had to explain what I hoped to achieve by volunteering. Amongst other things I cited: to gain a greater understanding of contemporary art and find ways of communicating this to myself and others; make new and interesting friends; develop my group skills; have an enjoyable time and write a number of articles for Art Feast outlining my adventures as a volunteer.
This week I was invited to a volunteer meeting and a 5 minute interview in the John Lewis building. I went along and had an enjoyable time meeting some of the Biennial team and a group of other people who had also applied to be volunteers. Amongst them was a friend I made whilst a volunteer on the Giant Sea Odyssey; Adam Scovell (a fellow Art Feast writer) and people mainly in their 20s, many of them who had completed art degrees and were looking for experience from the Biennial. All were friendly and joined enthusiastically with the variety of exercises we were given to help the facilitators decide what roles would suit the various people present. They were keen to see what aspects of welcoming people into the city people thought were important, especially as the theme of this year’s festival is the unexpectedguest.
I was curious as to why we were in the John Lewis building as a retail store is not the first place you think of when considering contemporary art. It was explained that John Lewis is a key partner, sponsoring an art work that will sit between their store and the Hilton, and are making available resources such as their meeting rooms. Also the Biennial has a major economic impact on the city with all the visitors it attracts and stores like John Lewis benefit from this.
I heard yesterday that I was to be part of the team and I was chosen with the others due to the key skills we bring to the mix; we were team players and people who would benefit from the experience. We are going to be at the heart of the visitor services programme and Liverpool Biennial.
Before the Biennial opens to the public we will be meeting the curators and having a walk through of the venues.
I will do further reports for Art Feast and report on what it is like to be a volunteer for one of the country’s leading art festivals. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the various updates I’m receiving from the organisers of the various artists and installations that will be appearing.