Midlands Arts and Culture Magazine speaks to Ian O’Flynn, Manager of Westmeath Volunteer Centre about the fun and friendships formed by those who get involved in the arts world in Westmeath. (Full Magazine viewable here)
“Managing Westmeath Volunteer Centre is a pleasure. Each and every day we meet wonderful people brimming with skills and enthusiasm and finding them a worthwhile volunteering opportunity is something we hold very dear,” enthused Ian.
“The opportunity to work with organisations who promote the arts in Westmeath was something that Westmeath Volunteer Centre jumped at.”
Perhaps given Ian’s artistic pedigree such enthusiasm is not a surprise. “I came from a theatrical background what with my mother being a playwright and my father being in the opera house in Cork and so it was more or less in my blood.
“Growing up, volunteering was a given thing, although, back then, it wasn’t called volunteering, it was just based on the willingness to help and the passion for the arts. Lifelong friends with widely ranging backgrounds, skills and passions were made and some went on to thread the boards on big stages,” continued Ian.
Ian highlighted the opportunity of working with other branches of the arts in the volunteer centre such as Athlone Art & Heritage to advise on Volunteer Management.
“Through this we have been able to find matches between our volunteers and opportunities within Athlone Art & Heritage such as the Artists Studio, the Luan Gallery, Hilltown Festival, Mullingar, Charleville Castle and, of course, Athlone Castle.
“The staff in Athlone Arts & Heritage are exceptional with the volunteers and we in the Volunteer Centre would use them as a good role model when explaining best practice to other not for profit organisations who are looking for volunteers.”
Ian was also keen to stress that anyone with a passion or interest in the Arts can make for a good volunteer. “One interesting thing I have always found was that volunteers do not need to be a Picasso or Oscar winning actors to be involved in the arts. Volunteering is about passion and the Volunteer Centre’s role when dealing with the volunteers is to find the passion within and help the volunteer with options about roles.”
“Being involved in the arts is an uplifting and inspiring experience. From helping children to discover colour, to helping an actor to learn their lines, to sharing the emotion and passion of a piece of art in a gallery, to stewarding at an event keeping everyone safe, all of these roles make a big difference and also uplifts the soul.
“Many of the volunteers I have met through the arts had no idea when they began their volunteering journey that they would fall in love with the arts as much as they did. The arts, craic agus ceol are an integral part of our society and the more we can all help to promote it, the better our land will be.” Volunteers are essential to the Arts and without them many initiatives would fall by the wayside. As Ian pointed out: “In the Midlands there are many art galleries, artist’s collectives, theatres, drama groups, poetry and spoken word, photography societies and many, many more arts inspired associations that, without volunteers would not exist.”
If you are interested in volunteering in Westmeath, check out out current opportunities here.