From 10% Ramen Noodles to 100% Art Gallery Star

Guest Post by Emily Kovacs, Volunteer of the Year 2014
Ever wonder what it’s like volunteering at an art gallery? In this guest post, Emily Kovacs talks about her experience at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Emily began as a volunteer Animateur, and has since fulfilled other roles at the Gallery, most recently as the Marketing/Communications assistant. In 2014, the AGM presented Emily with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

From 10% Ramen Noodles to 100% Art Gallery Star
By Emily Kovacs, Volunteer of the Year 2014

Once upon a time, there was a brand new volunteer to the AGM. She was a student, 30% naiveté, 20% inflated ego, 40% stress, 10% ramen noodles, and altogether confused about the course of her future. She came around to the AGM once in a while for special events where she dutifully served hors d’oeuvres on silver platters. She was solitary and quiet. You could say she was just putting in the hours. A strange thing happened when she started to talk to the volunteers and employees around her. She felt the compulsion to visit the AGM often, ask for more responsibilities, and sign up to cover more events! She began to care about the gallery’s goings-on and fostered a hope that one day the employees would know her by name. A dedicated volunteer was born!

Volunteering at the AGM has become something important to me. It’s not only that it creates a potential for networking, or the way that “Volunteer Gallery Attendant” nicely rounds a resume; volunteering has become something that inspires a unique pride and important sense of accomplishment in me.  I love the taste of the tasks that I am assigned to at the AGM.  Doing the work of various AGM departments is one of the things that reminds me of what is and isn’t the kind of work that I want to continue to fight for in my ever evolving career plan.  It reassures me that the work that I truly and whole-heartedly enjoy is within my grasp. Simply put, volunteering at the AGM is something that keeps me motivated on my career path.

If you want to talk skills, what haven’t I been given the opportunity to do and learn at the AGM? When you express an interest and prove your dedication and reliability, the AGM responds. I’ve improved my research skills, handled art from the AGM’s permanent art collection and worked on curatorial projects while assisting with cataloguing the AGM’s library. Hands on projects have involved assisting the curator and staff with the installation and de-installation of artwork for various shows. With the AGM’s art preparator, I’ve readied the gallery walls for incoming artwork. I took the AGM’s offer of a more committed volunteer role as the Marketing and Communications Volunteer. Under the guidance of Communications officer, Jaclyn, I was able to put new skills in Photoshop to use on digital projects.  From her, I learned tips for managing and utilising and art gallery’s social media for promotional purposes. I used her guidance and advice to draft, write, and edit blog posts and interviews with local artists. She was an inspiration to work with.

If you are interested in having new experiences, flexing curatorial muscles, or boosting confidence in new skills, then volunteering at the AGM could be just one more way for you to enjoy the sense of pride, enthusiasm, and excitement that comes from involving yourself an arts community. But beware: the more time you spend volunteering, the more addictive it becomes!

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Want to experience being an AGM Volunteer yourself? Check out our website for the application process!