By Vanessa Mastronardi, Curatorial Coordinator
I really believe that one of the most important things that The Works gives to its volunteers is the opportunity to lead public tours around the city to talk about our art exhibits. If you’re a person who isn’t in the midst of a fine arts degree, or heavily involved in the city’s art community, it can be really daunting to find a venue to think and talk about art. The Works Training in Art program (TART) empowers individuals who have an interest in art to take on a facilitator’s role in engaging with the public about work in the festival. There are no prerequisites needed in order to become a tour guide, you just need to be interested and attend the orientations.
Personally, I can be pretty shy when it comes to public speaking, so I was surprised at how many volunteers jumped at the idea of leading tours. Then again, I surround myself with other fine art students and spend an absurd amount of time talking about art. It made me realize the need for people who aren’t in my position to have a space to have the same important experiences. There are 39 tours throughout the festival, and almost all of them were filled with volunteers guiding. It was so exciting to here about different conversations and even healthy arguments that happened during these tours.
I hope that the tours helped volunteers to realize that conversations with strangers about art can create realizations in both parties that neither would have come to on their own. Maybe next time we won’t whisper to each other about our opinions in the art gallery so that the people around us won’t hear; instead, we’ll challenge each other and end up with conclusions we hadn’t expected.
Find out more about volunteering at The Works here: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/volunteer/