Interview with our very own Event Services Director, Brandon Pugh. Interested in learning more about volunteering? Email us at [email protected]
KAMAL: How important are volunteers at the Egyptian Theatre?
BRANDON: Volunteers are an integral part of operations here at the Theatre. We literally could not do what we do without them. When I started interning we presented 2-3 events each season, we are now presenting upwards of 12-16 shows each season. I mention this for the simple fact that we would not have been able to increase our programming as much as we have if we did not have the volunteer base to help support it.
K: Are there any specific qualifications/requirements needed for volunteering?
B: We ask volunteers to be personable, friendly, and well mannered as well as being age 16 and older. There are no prior requirements or qualifications needed to become an Egyptian Theatre volunteer. Some volunteers have theatre experience, which is great, but we are more than happy to take on volunteers with no prior theatre experience. We have a number of volunteers currently that are recently retired and wanted something fun to help fill their time.
K: Why is the volunteer orientation important for potential volunteers to attend?
B: This is where we have the opportunity to truly spark interest in volunteers! This initial meeting is critical to the longevity of the volunteer. I strive to offer a friendly, family-like environment for our volunteers and the initial training and walk thru is where I make those first connections. The volunteer orientation is also important because, as a venue, we stay on top of our safety and security measures. The orientation is where we get to discuss history of the theatre, frequently asked questions as well as evacuation procedures, if the time ever presented itself. The initial training is exceptionally important as this is where volunteers get the bulk of the information necessary to fulfill the volunteer role.
K: What can volunteers gain from this experience?
B: The opportunities are endless! Friendships, networking, confidence and so much more! There are a number of volunteers that see one another on a regular basis, even outside of the theatre! I love that – I love knowing that the Egyptian played a part in fostering a friendship. When it comes to networking, the opportunities are unending. We host numerous community events throughout the year where we have community dignitaries, university dignitaries and even Egyptian Theatre donors. I make it a point to let volunteers know who is who when we have events. I want them to know and realize that the Egyptian Theatre is much more than a theatre, as it is stated in our mission, we are regional performing arts center and we host much more than movies and theatre. Lastly, I want to touch on the confidence aspect. If ever you feel you are too shy, too quiet, or even too introverted to volunteer, I would challenge you. We have a number of volunteers that have blossomed and come out of their shell so much since beginning to volunteer. One in particular comes to mind…I have a volunteer that approached a promoter at a recent event to strike up conversation with them about the show they brought it in. I later found out that this is not something they would have ever, even remotely done before starting as a volunteer at the theatre. I love hearing these success stories!
K: What have past volunteer experiences been like; have they continued with it?
B: I would say 99% of volunteers enjoy their experiences with us. There have been a handful of folks over the years that chose to no longer volunteer with us. If this becomes the case, we will always welcome them back with open arms so long as they left on good terms. I do occasionally send out ‘satisfaction’ surveys to gauge the level of satisfaction with regards to our volunteer program. When I started nearly 6 years ago, there was no true method to train, recruit and retain volunteers. I have built this program, essentially, from the ground up. We have volunteers that have been with us for 20+ years, and some that have only volunteered at one event. I am always receptive to feedback and strive to improve the volunteer program as much as possible where I am able.
K: Has it been hard to attract new volunteers, since the pandemic?
B: At the start of the pandemic, I put a stop to any and all in person volunteer trainings. That was fine then, since all our programming came to a halt as well. Now that we are back to the point that we are programming more robustly, our need for volunteers continue to grow. I am noticing that only a fraction of our volunteers have returned, which is not a problem – we are exceptionally understanding of all comfort levels during this time. I am looking forward to the upcoming volunteer training on October 20 – I have received a number of confirmations from folks that are interested in becoming a volunteer which will help us as we continue to ramp up programming.