How volunteers have helped us: testimonials
Darlington Hippodrome and Touring Consortium Theatre Company
The Touring Consortium Theatre Company (TCTC) is a collaborative partnership between producers Jenny King and eight regional theatres including Darlington Hippodrome. In 2012, TCTC was successful in an application to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund for financial support for a programme of five productions to be presented on tour over two and a half years with the aim of reaching out to new, diverse audiences who might feel that theatre is ‘not for them’.
As part of this programme of work, each venue in the partnership – including Darlington Hippodrome – recruited a group of local ambassadors
- to help us encourage a more diverse and multi-cultural audience for our theatre
- to promote accessible performances including audio described and captioned performances
- to encourage families to make a visit to the theatre together
Through Darlington for Culture, Darlington Hippodrome recruited a group of volunteers, many of whom worked with the theatre and the TCTC on all five productions: To Sir, With Love, Brassed Off, Regeneration, A View from the Bridge and Of Mice and Men. Volunteers:
- Made visits with a member of the Darlington Hippodrome staff to watch a Saturday matinee at the producing theatres in Northampton, Nottingham, York or Birmingham prior to each production’s arrival in Darlington.
- Met members of the cast and production team as well as volunteers from other towns on the production’s tour itinerary.
- Raised interest and sold tickets to individuals and community groups in their networks and beyond, both in Darlington and in the surrounding towns and villages.
- Carried out surveys in the theatre on behalf of the Touring Consortium before and after performances.
- Staffed an exhibition of mining memorabilia during performances of Brassed Off.
The Theatre Consortium says, 'We are thrilled that Darlington for Culture are a part of our Ambassadors scheme. They are an integral part of our audience development in Darlington, remaining committed to promoting our work and values in the local community over the last 5 years. We very much enjoy hosting our Ambassadors trips at the beginning of each production and always look forward to seeing our friends from Darlington.'
Oxjam Darlo is an annual music festival which takes place across several town centre venues in Darlington. All proceeds from the festival are donated to Oxfam, who help those most in need in the UK and across the globe. The festival also aims to showcase some of the region’s best musicians and only selects North East based artists.
To ensure the festival can go ahead, Oxjam Darlo needed to recruit volunteers from the local community to help with the operational side of the festival. Darlington for Culture has stepped in to help during the past three festivals. Volunteers:
- Performed marketing tasks to promote the festival beforehand, such as including the event on mailing campaigns and through their social media.
- Actively promoting the Oxjam Darlo volunteering scheme to their members.
- Staffed the ‘wristband exchange station’ where volunteers where trusted to take large sums of money from members of the public.
- Volunteers took part in fundraising activities on behalf of Oxjam.
- Darlington for Culture members were responsible for checking wristbands at each venue.
- Advised members of the public during the festival about venues and stage running times.
Grace Wakes, Oxjam Darlo Marketing Coordinator says, ‘Without the Darlington for Culture volunteers we would be unable to put on such a massive event for the town. They have become a massive support to the smooth running of the festival and we look forward to continuing our good working relationship with them for future events.’
Darlington Green Theatre
Darlington Green Theatre was formed ten years ago for the purpose of producing one of Shakespeare’s plays each summer in South Park. The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death saw Green Theatre mount shortened versions of both Hamlet and Macbeth in three different venues in the town, including Crown Street Library and the Head of Steam Museum. There were also Flash Mob performances in the Cornmill shopping centre of the lovers’ quarrel from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The production of such an ambitious programme would not have been possible without the support of the Darlington Culture Volunteers team.
Green Theatre greatly values the support of DCV volunteers at our productions. They have supported us in all weathers with stewarding, taking tickets, selling programmes and, on occasion, helping back stage. They are, without exception, cheerful, helpful and very positive in their support of whatever undertaking they have been asked to volunteer for. We appreciated their support at our production of The Comedy of Errors in Crown Street Library at the end of September 2017.
For details about the group, visit Facebook.
Darlington Orchestra is a community group run by volunteers and we perform our two main concerts each year, in summer and winter, at the Dolphin Centre.
Concert days are a busy time for players. There are only a few hours between the afternoon rehearsal and evening event to finalise everything at the venue.
At the concerts, Darlington Culture Volunteers handle cash ticket-sales on the door, admit ticket-holders, distribute free concert programmes (including a version written specially for children), and generally support audience access to Central Hall. The volunteers also collect completed feedback forms, which are useful for the orchestra to gauge audience reaction and to keep in touch with concert-goers.
Having the volunteers helping at concerts means that orchestra players don’t have to do those front-of-house roles and they can concentrate on playing the music and enjoying the performance.
TIN Arts – IncludFEST Tees Valley
TIN Arts are an inclusive arts organisation based in Durham City and delivering work across the North East of England.
Every July, TIN Arts programme and deliver an inclusive outdoor arts event called ‘IncludFEST Tees Valley’ aimed at children and young people and their families.
It takes place through the daytime and is located in South Park, Darlington, making the most of the open spaces for performances and workshops as well as providing plenty of room for all those wishing to attend to move freely and not feel ‘congested’ (particularly suited to those with Autism).
The free festival includes: a stage area for live performances (music, dance, drama); quieter ‘gentler’ performance areas for storytelling, etc; roaming street-theatre moving around the designated event area; a range of participatory workshops (visual arts, creative writing, badge making, etc); advocacy and information stalls; as well as face painting.
The event has run for three years and has been constantly supported by Darlington for Culture Volunteers. The volunteers support the event on the day by:
- assisting with set-up before the event starts
- helping with the delivery of ‘have a go’ activities alongside artists
- meeting the public and helping them to make the most of the festival offer
- supporting key areas of event management including keeping spaces secure, working alongside key event team members such as the Health and Safety lead among other duties.
Martin Wilson, Director of TIN Arts, said: "The volunteers are crucial to the successful delivery of our event. Without them, we would not be able to create our festival offer which heavily relies on having people in place to support the public’s engagement in workshop activities and performances.
"The DfC volunteers have been with us since we started the IncludFEST journey in Tees Valley in 2015 and we sincerely hope DCVs will continue to work alongside us as we move forwards."
Sarah Wilson Events
Sarah Wilson is involved in organising a huge amount of exciting arts events around Darlington, including BIG Little Gigs and events with the Darlington music collective Tracks.
Darlington Culture Volunteers have helped out at numerous BIG Little Gigs events over the past three years. BIG Little Gigs run family-friendly events featuring a wide variety of musical genres.
Volunteers have helped in many ways from running the box office to making cups of tea, supervising the dance floor to face painting! I wouldn't have been able to run the events without their valued help and support.
DCVs also did a brilliant job of staffing our box office at Tracks' first Arts-Council funded "Last Train Home Festival" (pictured), thanks for all your hard work!