High school students in Ontario must complete 40 volunteer hours to graduate. So, you might as well do something you already love. Here’s how to get a sweet volunteer gig in the arts:
1. Big galleries you’ve probably already visited are looking for teen volunteers.
Two of the biggest galleries in the GTA, the AGO downtown and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, have volunteer programs for high school students.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is looking for high school student volunteers for its Family Sundays. Volunteers help studio art instructors with materials and prep, give directions to AGO visitors and help children with arts, crafts and games.
“Without the assistance of hard working and devoted youth volunteers who are passionate about art, programs such as this would not be possible,” says the AGO's Jane Lott.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is looking for volunteers for its Youth Team. On the second Saturday of the month, volunteers help out with things like art-making workshops, outdoor nature programs and gallery tours.
“Supporting teenagers to volunteer at the McMichael is important as it exposes them to Canadian art, culture and history, and provides experience in a gallery/museum setting, while fulfilling a student's community service hours,” says Daniela Travierso-Galati.
2. Local galleries around Ontario are interested in taking high school volunteers too.
There are tons of galleries across Ontario — find one close to you and ask if they’re looking for volunteers.
Museum Strathroy-Caradoc is just one example.
“We know the value of hands-on experience in the professional cultural sector and are happy to provide students with the chance to develop their skills and knowledge base. I was a museum volunteer in high school, and that training opened so many doors for me in university and beyond. I’m thrilled to provide students with the same enriching experience,” says Christian Julien Siroyt, exhibits and programming coordinator.
3. Check out your local volunteer centre.
You should visit the volunteer centre closest to you.
“The best way to get started in volunteering is simply to start! It’s up to you to make the first move. Organizations love to work with dedicated, motivated volunteers,” says Volunteer Toronto’s Ainsley Kendrick.
“Our website has between 600 to 1000 opportunities listed at any given time, so there are plenty of listings to choose from. Then all that’s left to do is reach out! Contact the person listed on the posting. You can phone or email, leave a few days for them to respond, then follow-up. Finding a volunteer position is a lot like looking for a job. You may need to submit a resume or application, attend an interview, then an orientation session. The whole experience is an incredible way to prepare you for the work force, so stay open minded and focussed.”
Every school board in Ontario has a list of pre-approved volunteer activities that count towards your 40 hours. If you’re not sure whether the place you want to volunteer at will follow the rules, talk to your teacher or principal first.