KCR: Volunteers make an impact by bringing skills and knowledge

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

The Lake Country Art Gallery is a highlight and cultural destination for visitors and locals alike.

Art gallery manager Petrina MacNeil is a well-known advocate for the local arts scene, ensuring the art gallery is accessible, engages the local community and beyond and offers a strong contemporary voice.

The art gallery has been operating for 11 years, with a focus on connecting artists and audience through interpretive and educational programs.

Art is chosen for display based on its ability to communicate and generate ideas and conversations.

“The Lake Country Art Gallery informs and builds community through enriching and sometimes challenging exhibitions,” explained Petrina. “It offers diverse and inclusive programming and gives space to artists in varied artistic practices.”

The art gallery also offers volunteers opportunities to share their skills and knowledge and to network with the community, and to work with a small organization that has accessible and supportive staff. One of the favourite volunteer positions is the Gallery Host, which is the welcoming face that greets every visitor. For those who prefer not to interact with the public, can sign up for committees like the garden and facilities maintenance and exhibition installation team. The Gallery also looks for event volunteers that can help with gallery openings and fundraisers.

“Coming up is our main annual fundraising exhibition, The Under/Over 100,” said Petrina. “We need help installing over 600 works of art within a few days. There will also be a fundraising event as part of the show – like the night market. We need help with set-up and take-down of these events. Also extra gallery hosts through the two and a half week exhibition.”

For anyone looking to work with a board, the art gallery is looking for people to support the strategic planning, human resources and fundraising committees and help the organization to continue to grow and to make impact.

The gallery offers a unique experience for volunteers as they connect with a wide array of stakeholders, including staff, directors, other volunteers, exhibiting artists, families, seniors, school groups and university students. And as the gallery is connected to the Coffee House, even patrons who stumbled into the gallery for the first time.

“Volunteers support the gallery operations but also contribute to the idea generating and development of programs or events,” said Petrina.

“The make an impact by enhancing our capacity and reach, by bringing additional skills and knowledge and by being themselves, the welcoming face of our organization.

“After 11 years of working with volunteers I have many favourite memories. But one thing I notice more often than anything is how much I learn from working with such amazing dedicated people that are here for no other reason than they want to be here.

“Like the time we had a frog stuck in the underground drain. I worked for two days on rescuing and releasing it, at which point we happened to have a volunteer hosting who knew about frogs…she was able to reassure me that when I released it into the late fall garden, it would not matter if the frog froze because that’s something they can do.

“They can survive a freeze and they can come alive again after they thaw. Who knew?”

If you are interested in volunteering at Lake Country Art Gallery, check out their opportunities on the VolunteerConnector through www.kcr.ca or go visit the art gallery and connect with Petrina and the team there.

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at dorothee@kcr.ca.