Why you should volunteer in the art world

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Why you should volunteer in the art world

Volunteering is a personal choice which differs from person to person. Some people decide to volunteer to the community for giving back purposes, while others decide to volunteer at an organisation which resonates with their passion and their career path. Either is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to grow and learn new skills or it’s simply another opportunity to build on existing knowledge on a particular topic.

Volunteering helps to benefit society, and it helps you create strong connections and relationships in new environments. It’s not always about using your talents to directly assist people, but sometimes it’s about taking an opportunity to learn from others and help them help you. Especially when it’s something you feel deeply about, for example, art, then volunteering in the art world will give you a sense of purpose.  

Finding the right art environment to volunteer at could prove to be a challenge in the beginning, but here are a few tips to help you wrap your head around your options:


Remember that it’s about YOU

Volunteering is beneficial to both parties, in the sense that if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re going to be more motivated and inspired to work harder at it. Sometimes it takes an unfamiliar environment to give you the courage to go ahead and pursue your dreams. Before you decide to volunteer at your local African art gallery, think about your motivation and how you can motivate others.

Often when you get to those moments in your life where your creativity dips low and your inspiration flies out of the door, you can always lean on a volunteering position to make you feel motivated again. And, because you will constantly be surrounded by art and creative resource, which is what you love, it’ll help bring you out of that rut and help you to figure out what your next step is.

This opportunity can also serve as a ‘break’ from an uncertain period in your life, as it will put things into perspective again, and you are bound to come across someone who might inspire a new idea or spark an interest. This might be exactly what you need to keep moving forward and chasing your dreams.


Volunteer where you fit best

If the different African art styles form the foundation of your genre inspiration, then volunteering at your local gallery would be beneficial for your growth. Where you choose to spend your time should be somewhere that interests you and matches your skills. After all, you never know what your existing skills could do to benefit others in the art world. All it takes is taking the leap and trying something new. But, before you settle on a specific place, think about the following questions:

  1. What will this volunteer position entail?
  2. How will my skills benefit others?
  3. What are the time commitments for this volunteer position?
  4. Will I be provided with the necessary resource to assist?
  5. What stepping stone will this be for my future career as a professional artist?


Think of volunteering as a marketing opportunity

Take your volunteering opportunity to market your own work and skills. Because you will be exposed to so many influential people and artists through your time spent at the gallery, you never know what could come of it. Many volunteers take advantage of these opportunities to speak about themselves, in non-retail environments, to help them grow their network pool and to see where the opportunity could take them. Be ready to have conversations with other interested individuals on how African art is transforming, and what you’re doing to change African art. Not only will you benefit from marketing yourself, but you could use your voice to truly make a difference and change the way people feel about creativity. Always keep a sample of your work with you and your contact details on hand, but know when it’s the right time to do so. Remember that you are there for a volunteer position, not a sales position.

Final words

Since volunteer work is unpaid, it doesn’t take away the fact that you will be given the opportunity to learn new skills and gain a new experience. You will also be surrounded by people who also live and breathe art, as well as art lecturers who may have the answers to a problem you’ve been struggling with.

No matter where you end up volunteering, make sure that your choice is best for both you and the non-profit organisation you choose. These experiences will teach you so much more than what you already know, and they may even provide you with all the tools you need to succeed in your career one day. From being exposed to different art styles and art messages, it will inspire your future work.

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