In the early August of 2018, I was very fortunate to participate in Melbourne International Film Festival as a visitor for the first time of my life by selecting Film festival study tour. Although I had one chance to cooperate with Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival as local executive team in 2016 Hohhot, China, helping with volunteer management and manpower deployment. What really interested me was that 12 MIFF volunteers can be seen along the hall way from the venue entrance to our seats. In festival events, volunteers are indispensable from entrance to backstage, even famous as MIFF.(As official blog of MIFF shows, more than 350 people are volunteering in MIFF each year, divided into 7 shifts.) So let’s talk about different angle of volunteer usage in festivals, using ICAR RUSHING music festival as an example.
ICAR RUSHING is my music festival located in Inner Mongolia, China, starts since 2016, with more than 30,000 visitors each year. Our core team only have 26 people, except for casts and mechanics, thus a big part of my team who make this event happening are volunteers. This year, we launched a new volunteer management plan with social media WeChat, so that volunteers can participate in the promotion, sales and execution of the music festival according to their interests. Now our festival just finished at 20th Sep2018, these results are presented. This plan not only solves the problem of unsuccessful task delivery and feedback in our previous activities, but also expands the promotional coverage of the event and helps stabilize the on-site security.
Firstly, the initial stage volunteer recruitment should be finished before the festival entered the preparatory stage.
Secondly, Establish an independent department for volunteers and set up one WeChat task group as communication method to deliver propaganda.
Thirdly, In the communication stage, name volunteers the ambassadors of the festival in online propaganda and let them help with all stages of communication by sharing their personalized article on WeChat moments. And the follow-up recruitment of volunteers is carried out simultaneously.
Fourth, In the pre-sale phase, ambassadors can choose to become a WeChat distributor of this event by adding ticketing link in their personalized propaganda. (The dividend and reward system can be determined according to the specific activities.)
Fifth, Group volunteers according to festival needs and set up rotation schedule. During the performance, all volunteers are not allowed to leave the venue. Except for one group on duty, rest of volunteers can freely move on-site and keep security assistant in mind to supervise the scene. If an emergency is found, it can be reported to crisis management through the WeChat group at any time.
The original purpose of this plan is to maximize the sense of participation of volunteers while maximizing the benefits of using we-media. Target market is local citizens, apart from mass media, we-media make the event closely related to potential audience, especially if their friends or relatives are involved in it. After the show, our volunteers’ work feedback turns out they not only became loyal fans of BIGHOT music festival, but also formed memorable friendships with each other.
Volunteer using has always been a controversial topic, traditional volunteers which almost can be equalized to free labour, is becoming a limited understanding of volunteer. As a music festival director, presenting an impressive event under insufficient budget is a daily routine. I have to consider diverse demands and interests, which we can provide them incidentally to fairly exchange their labor and time, of our potential volunteers. As a convener of volunteers, I would admit volunteers’ work is indispensable, especially for medium or small size festival. But I’m working hard to meet the needs of everyone who is willing to support us, so that this “trade” not just involving money can be a fair deal.