Shows go on with helpers in high spirits
Helpers: Eva Mampaey, Bruce Wilson and Rachel Kemp. Picture: Bill Hatto/ The West Australian

Troops of volunteers are carrying the weight of Perth's two summer arts festivals on their shoulders.

Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe World organisers say they would not be able to undertake their long marches without the hard work of unpaid staff.

Like all non-profit organisations, the festivals rely heavily on people who answered their calls for help late last year.

"The Festival would still tick along but I think the volunteers add another great dimension," Perth Festival volunteer co-ordinator Rachel Kemp said. "They are the very enthusiastic faces and ambassadors for the Festival."

About 100 people, ranging from retirees in their 70s to international travellers and students in their teens, supplemented about 40 Festival staff by working as crowd marshals, ushers, office interns and even as participants in the Bombs per Minute opening weekend spectacle, Ms Kemp said.

People were drawn to volunteer for many reasons, including the satisfaction of helping people enjoy themselves, the chance to meet new people, the excitement of meeting artists and learning how such major enterprises tick.

"It is a great opportunity for them to get behind the scenes," she said.

Volunteer Eva Mampaey, from Dianella, said she got involved in the Festival after moving to Perth from Belgium in December.

"It is a good opportunity for me to meet people because I am starting all over," Ms Mampaey said.

"I really like the arts and it inspires me a lot to be around creative people. It is a great way to learn more about Perth."

Fringe World, which is staging about 300 different shows, also relied on about 100 volunteers to support its small team of 14 core staff, associate director Amber Hasler said.

"Many people use this as a means to connect to a greater community," she said.

"They enjoy spending time with the artists. People really use that to connect to something broader.

"The Fringe needs a lot of manpower. So many hands go into this thing and the staff can only go so far.

"Aside from being able to accomplish everything that needs to go with Fringe World, the volunteers add a whole lot of character to the scene in creating and enhancing people's experience."

Volunteers are encouraged to express their colourful personalities to help entertain people waiting for shows to start.

The West Australian

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