On Wednesday afternoon Laraine and I were at Arts Council England in London to meet Meli Hatzihrysidis and Kate Parkin (by video link from Newcastle) to discuss our ACE-funded Volunteering in the Arts project. Laraine updated us on the three elements of the project – volunteering audits of five arts organisations in the North East of England, the development of a Volunteering in the Arts toolkit with Volunteering England and Monday’s Volunteering in the Arts Forum meeting in Newcastle. It was reassuring to hear that the main conclusions we can now draw from the project reinforce the assumptions made at the original Volunteering and the Arts discussion which I chaired at ACE in November 2010 – that arts organisations make extensive use of volunteers but generally have little or no connection to mainstream volunteering best practice, advice and support, such as that provided by Volunteering England, the Office for Civil Society at the Cabinet Office and the network of local volunteer centres. Laraine confirmed that the audit visits we undertook suggested that arts organisations don’t seem to have problems recruiting volunteers but that those managing volunteers need more support and advice to ensure that volunteers are managed effectively. On Wednesday we discussed possible next steps, beyond the end of this pilot project, to develop better connections between arts organisations and volunteering agencies and best practice.
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