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The value of the MTACVC's contribution to the arts community of the City of Ottawa is incalculable. Volunteers have contributed more than 300,000 hours of service since the company's formation in 1988.
With a continual increase in performances, this figure grows annually. Artists have found the performance space at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe a welcoming place, largely due to the expertise and congeniality of the volunteers. The MTACVC has been recognized for its excellent structure and for the spirit of cooperation that exists between paid and volunteer staff.
The MTACVC maintains 150 to 200 members, recruiting from the Ottawa area. Several outstanding volunteers have personally contributed well in excess of the requested eight hours per month, reaching more than 2,000 hours during their time at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe.
In 1992, the Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe Volunteer Company was featured in the TVO series Putting on the Arts hosted by Don Harron with a follow-up that was aired in the fall of 1999 on TVO's Studio 2. Margaret Genovese profiled the MTACVC in her book The Art of the Volunteer: Volunteerism in the Professional Performing Arts in Canada. A good reputation that took a decade to forge now stands as the measuring stick for all volunteer organizations.
There are three crews in the company, each one responsible for a different branch of theatrical expertise. Each crew is represented in the MTACVC steering committee by a crew chief and an alternate crew chief. These senior members are required to attend the monthly steering committee meetings and liaise with theatre staff to formulate and implement volunteer activities. They also provide leadership and motivation as well as crew-specific tasks.
Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe is proud of the diverse nature of its volunteer company and is committed to the inclusion of all.
To register for the Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe volunteer program, please go to myvolunteerpage.com or contact the coordinator of the volunteer program at 613-580-2424 x14148. Please note that we have a minimum age requirement of 16 for the hospitality and house crews and 18 for the stage crew. As well, we require a minimum commitment of 80 hours per season (September to June).
The hospitality crew provides catering to our visiting performers and guests in a professional manner that enhances the image of Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe within the performing arts industry and throughout Canada. This involves working with staff to plan the menus, shopping for the ingredients, preparing the meals and serving them to the artists.
A crew member's responsibilities are as follows:
- attends monthly crew meetings
- coordinates and assists at theatre and community events including Stage 101 (a variety show by volunteers, for volunteers), volunteer recruitment and Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe presentations
- prepares meals and refreshments for visiting artists being presented by Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
This crew's mandate is to meet the public as ushers and ticket takers, to ensure the safety and security of our patrons and to act as tactful ambassadors of goodwill to the public attending performances. The house crew is the largest of the three crews with membership fluctuating between 80 and 100.
The uniform for the house crew includes a MTACVC name tag, black vest and patterned tie (provided by the theatre) accompanied by black dress pants or black business-length skirt, and a white-collared dress shirt or blouse (provided by the volunteer).
The house crew uses formal training in basic and emergency procedures, together with the buddy system to introduce new volunteers to the operations of the crew.
The crew positions are as described below:
- fills vacancies for crew calls
- completes call sheets with appropriate information and passes along briefing instructions to late-comers
- reminds volunteers to re-acquaint themselves with evacuation procedures for their particular exit stations
- assists ticket takers and ushers, identifying and assisting with problem areas
- in the case of the fire alarm sounding, assists the house facilitator as required
- prepares the front of house for the patrons
- folds and distributes programmes and/or adds inserts as required
- scans tickets to monitor attendance
- prevents patrons from taking cameras and recorders into the auditorium
- assists patrons to their seats in a safe manner
- greets patrons as they enter the theatre
- takes care of patrons requiring special services (wheelchairs, use of the elevator, etc.)
- directs patrons to box office, coat check, restrooms and seat locations
The stage crew's mandate is to provide technical support in the areas of sound, lighting and staging for non-commercial users of Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe. The stage crew consists of a chief, the alternate chief, principal volunteers (experienced volunteers who have demonstrated an advanced degree of competence in an area) and members.
A new stage crew volunteer doesn't need previous experience in theatre. Volunteers are provided with the training they require to work efficiently, competently and safely. Safety is of prime consideration when working on stage and is emphasized in all training sessions.
All new volunteers are required to participate in a series of basic training sessions. The first, back stage 360, is a requirement before joining the crew. The other mandatory basic courses cover staging principles, introduction to lighting and introduction to audio. This qualifies the new volunteer to work as a stagehand. As one gains experience with the crew, he or she may wish to gain more specialized knowledge by participating in training sessions on advanced audio and lighting, followspot and rigging operation. The basic crew commitment is eight hours per month. However, the amount of time a volunteer actually works in a month is dependent on his or her interest and the shows, training and activities scheduled in a month.
Crew members are provided with appropriate refreshments (food and beverages) should they work a shift that extends over normal meal periods.
After meeting training standards, volunteers will initially work as assistants (lighting, audio, flys, etc.) or stagehands. Progression to operators or lead hands is dependent on the volunteer experience and level of training.
The crew operation positions are as follows:
Audio board operator:
- responsible for all sound components of a production; Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe boasts one of the finest and most user-friendly systems available with state-of-the-art equipment
- operates the mixing board, recording devices, amplifiers and processing equipment
- sets up and strikes microphones, speakers and intercom stations
Lighting board operator:
- coordinates all lighting aspects using state-of-the-art gear
- operates the lighting control board during set-ups, rehearsals and performances
- supervises and assists in the hanging and focusing of lighting instruments
- programs computerized lighting board and chooses colours
- in charge of the safe execution of the flying system
- opens main curtains and vertical set changes
- provides production assistance
- assists with loading and unloading trucks
- assists with assembling and striking sets, risers, platforms and other furnishings
- assists with scenery changes during rehearsals and performances
- provides assistance to fly, audio and light operators
- gets a close look at what an operator does to see if it's something they may want to do