Volunteering: Yang Lim and His Dedication to The Works

Posted by Sarah Flowers, Volunteer Assistant

For the past twenty-eight years, The Works Art & Design Festival has been put on by a dedicated group of individuals who share a passion for making art accessible to the public.  An integral part of The Works is the team of devoted volunteers who put countless amounts of both time and energy into helping each year’s Festival be bigger and better than the previous year.  Yang Lim is one such volunteer.  To commemorate his tenth year of volunteering with The Works, I had the privilege of sitting down with Yang and talking about his time with the Festival.  Read on to find out why Yang first got involved with The Works, what he’s looking forward to this Festival, and what makes him keep coming back.

Sarah Flowers: What initially attracted you to volunteering for The Works?

Yang Lim: I don’t know…I like art, for one.  It’s a personal interest.  It was the initial reason.  It seemed like a good way to get involved.  Plus it seemed like a good way to learn something new.  I first started volunteering with the volunteer department and then moved into other areas.  I’ve had experiences with some different things.

SF: What is it about The Works that makes you want to come back every year?

YL: Well, now it’s actually year round.

SF: Now it is year round, but what makes you stick around?

YL: Well there’s the personal interest side of it and now there’s also the picking up of new knowledge and skills.  It’s professional development that might be useful down the road.  The people keep me coming back now, although initially I didn’t know anyone.

SF: I was going to say, you’ve seen so many different people and gotten to know so many people, especially because of the Works to Work program. There’s been almost two hundred people come through these doors since you started!  So, do you have a favorite Festival moment?  A certain Festival year that stands out or Festival moment that stands out as your ultimate Works moment?

YL: That’s a tough question.  I think I’m going to have to think on that one.

SF: We’ll come back to this one.  With this being your tenth year, what are you most looking forward to with this Festival?

YL: I’m looking forward to working with curatorial a little bit more in the sense that it’s an area I’m not as familiar with.  I straddled that and the volunteer department last year.  I’ve also done the tracking of hours for the last few years.

SF: I’ve definitely heard that you’re pretty involved in both departments.  So, have you thought your favourite Festival moment yet?

YL: I can mention something I can remember from an exhibit.  One year, we had this gun sculpture. That’s part of why I volunteer – to see something interesting.  One year, there was a room in the public library simulating a highway.

SF: A highway?

YL: Yes, as if you were crossing a highway.  So it made it look like you were walking across a highway with cars.  It was a sensory experience.  I’m also looking forward to more and different art in this year’s Festival.  With the music, there might be an interesting artist.  That’s more by chance.  I say sometimes that that’s a highlight too – the performances and the art.  Generally speaking, Canada Day is the busiest day and often the most interesting day.

SF: That’s a favourite day for you?

YL: In the sense that a lot is happening all at once.  Sometimes there are problems, but you handle it.  You pretty much have to deal with things as they come up.  It’s worth it when you see people enjoying the Festival.

SF: We have a lot of new volunteers this year and I think it’s great for them to hear about someone who’s been around for a while.  Maybe it’ll make them think that it could be them in ten years.  Do you have any advice for the new volunteers?

YL: With the nature of the Festival, they need to be aware that sometimes they’ll be shifted around.  Like with exhibits, there’s something that might need to be covered. 

SF: Especially with new volunteers, they might not know what to expect in terms of volunteering.  Do you think they should pretty much expect the unexpected?

YL: Within reason, yes.  You do a little bit of everything.

SF: Thanks so much for sitting down to talk to me about your volunteer experience with The Works.  It was wonderful getting to know more about you!