Discussion on Volunteerism in Singapore

Following on from our previous conversations with our past ambassador coordinators, here’s another discussion we had with one of our long-term ambassador, Valerie Ng. Valerie is a student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who is currently pursuing a diploma in Arts Business Management. Our engagement intern, Michelle Kee held a short discussion with her on TheatreWorks Ambassadors’ Programme (TAP) and volunteerism in Singapore.

I think volunteerism should be done from the heart and it should be something that you really want to do.

– Valerie Ng, TheatreWorks’ Ambassador

Val (edited).jpg

Michelle: I understand that you have been volunteering with TheatreWorks for a while. Can you tell us what was your impetus in joining TheatreWorks Ambassadors’ Programme (TAP)?

Valerie: I’ve always been very keen and interested in TheatreWorks’ productions. When the Ambassadors’ Programme first started, many volunteering opportunities were introduced to me and I was allowed to take on roles other than Front-of-House. Thus, I joined the programme as I thought it will be a good learning opportunity for me. Through this programme, I was exposed to the behind-the-scenes of events management and have a deeper understanding of the arts.

Michelle: That’s great to hear, could you share more on how you have benefitted from this programme? What do you think are some of the skills you have honed?

Valerie: Through the programme, I believe I’ve got better understanding on how arts events are being run, from managing Front-of-House to providing hospitality for different visitors. Apart from that, I also had the opportunity to contribute to the TAP blog. Upon reflecting on some of TheatreWorks’ productions, I was able to hone my analysis and writing skills. This has been very helpful to me as an arts management student, since I was able to apply my knowledge and skills in other real-life experiences like my internship.

Michelle: So, do you think this programme is important to encourage volunteerism in Singapore?

Valerie: I think it’s great that TheatreWorks has a permanent ambassador programme for all their volunteers. Through this platform, the company is able to build stronger relationships with their volunteers by working with them repeatedly. This way, volunteers are more inclined to help out in the future. I think it’s important that arts companies have such a volunteering programme to encourage volunteerism in Singapore. Apart from volunteering, I believe the ambassadors will gain more knowledge on how to manage arts events and enjoy TheatreWorks’ productions while at it.

Michelle: How else can arts volunteerism be encouraged?

Valerie: Firstly, the volunteers must have interest in the arts. If they have certain understanding or interest in the company’s direction or programmes, they are more inclined to help out. During the volunteering session, they would want to be more exposed to what the behind-the-scenes are, as well as gaining new knowledge and have better learning experiences. Therefore, in order to further encourage volunteerism, arts companies should promote their programmes to different schools. They can start with schools with fine arts or arts management programmes, or even Junior Colleges with theatre studies programmes.

Michelle: Okay, let’s diverge a bit from arts volunteerism. Recently, there’s a debate on whether volunteering should be monetized in Singapore and it has sparked some discussions on the internet. Could you share with us your thoughts and views on that?

Valerie: Firstly, I think providing monetary incentives will definitely increase volunteerism rate, but the issue of this matter is whether they are volunteering for the right reasons. I think volunteerism should be done from the heart and it should be something that you really want to do. By providing monetary incentives, people are volunteering for the wrong reasons, so it’s hard to tell how much they are willing to put their heart and soul into the volunteering experience. Furthermore, such incentives may encourage youths to be more materialistic and money-minded, since everything has a price attached to it. Volunteerism should be something that someone is willing to do on their own time and basis, not because they are paid to do so. I guess that wouldn’t be called volunteerism, but a job instead.

Michelle: Thank you.

Interested in gaining more insights and interesting experiences in the arts? Click here to join our TheatreWorks Ambassadors’ Programme today!


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