LivingArts: The Tireless Work of Arts Organizers


If you're a promoter of the arts, you know how hanging posters usually goes. It's windy and it's rainy, but your event is two weeks away, so you have no choice but to do it. You hold the tape in your mouth. The scissors dangle from your pinky finger. You press your entire torso against the poster so it doesn't blow away while you tape it to the pole. It's a ridiculous dance, but you do it dozens of times, and you think to yourself, "Yep. This year everyone is going to come!"

Two days later, you inevitably walk by and your posters are gone. You try not to take it personally, but every other poster is still in tact. You think to yourself, "Wow. Someone in Hamilton really hates literary festivals."

Promoting the arts, and promoting yourself as an artist, can be tireless, but necessary, work. Small arts organizations, like gritLIT, the literary festival I help organize, are run mostly by volunteers who donate their time in order to help colour the city with something vibrant. Promoting the arts doesn't end at 5:00 every evening. The work of committee members, volunteers, and organizers inevitably extends around the clock, especially in the weeks leading up to an event.

Promoting the arts on a small budget is only possible because of the people who sit on committees, attend city council meetings to advocate for the arts, and network in order to help fledgling events and organizations appeal to a larger audience and grow into something bigger. Without volunteers willing to brave winter Art Crawls to hand out information and to take to social media to help spread the word, Hamilton wouldn't be the hub for the arts it is today.

This week is National Volunteer Week, which seems a fitting addition to this post. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the tireless, sometimes frustrating, work of people who dedicate their time promoting art, making art, discussing art, and advocating for art for little or no money. Promoting the arts can be tireless and thankless, but damn, it can be worth it.