Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fringe 2013: A Modest Volunteer Proposal

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 4:59 PM

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In my post-mortem wrap-up of the recently-concluded 2013 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, I neglected to mention the lifeblood of the festival: the volunteers. The Fringe's corps of volunteers is mostly amazing, dedicating thousands of man-hours each year to keep the event running smoothly.

The only problem with volunteers is that there are never enough of them. Even with Fringe's expanded venues, there were enough on hand to keep the box offices and venue entrances adequately staffed, but their absence was occasionally sorely felt in auxiliary areas. For example the deficit of volunteers at Kids Fringe (especially at cleanup time) was so noticeable it became a laugh-line at the closing spoof show.

Volunteers are compensated for their time with "Fringe Bucks" which can be exchanged for free show tickets and raffle prizes at a post-event party. Short of paying them (which would kind of miss the point) what more can be done to encourage and reward volunteerism at the Fringe?

Here is my simple, semi-Swiftian, sorta-serious solution: make Fringe Bucks valid to buy beer. Sure, you might end up with some blitzed ticket-takers, but then they would just blend in better with the pickled patrons. Hey, an unpaid labor force kept docile with malted beverages worked for the ancient Egyptians! Just tell folks that they can get a free buzz in exchange for a couple hours of work, and I believe the Fringe will be neck-deep in volunteers before you can blink.

 


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