I am wondering this morning, whether Liverpool has the most volunteers per exhibition/event for any city in the UK? It seems that way.. especially as the Biennial depend so heavily on them. The Bluecoat also have plenty of them and even have them wearing t-shirts with ‘volunteer’ on instead of staff, which always seems a bit sad to me. I’m glad institutions make room for people to get experience, but they also have a responsibility to recognise when to stop don’t they? The biennial generally gets new volunteers every time, who work intensively for a short time, but for the really valuable experience within the organisation they look for full-time volunteers for six months and seem to be able to pick and choose from plenty of candidates.
I saw an advert this week for the new section of the new museum, which is looking for volunteers (aged 16 – 25) for invigilation. It seems this ‘excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience’ is intended as an alternative to paid staff; pretty bad for all the new graduates etc when you take into account that National Museums Liverpool (NML) already pay the least of any cultural institution in the city.
Talking to a couple of colleauges in the Tate yesterday made me more frustrated – but you have to volunteer to stand a chance of getting a real job -they said. Perhaps that is true, but isn’t volunteering in the arts to be done while at Uni, or soon afterwards and then only for a short time? I know people who have been volunteering for the Biennial for two years now (£20/day) and now get a mix of voluntary and paid work from them, counting themselves lucky. Is it just me that is baffled by this??
Enough voluntary rants for now.
Next: all the valuable things I have learned from Dumb Objects and how artists may benefit from unpaid exhibitions.