Go Deeper

Volunteer Spotlight: Jay Brown and Paul Watson

Posted June 22nd, 2009

“Volunteer Spotlight” is a new feature from Karina Kacala, the volunteer coordinator for the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe. Our volunteers are crucial to the success of the Festival every year; without their fantastic work, the Festival couldn’t exist in the form you’ve come to know and love. In this space Karina will talk to past volunteers about what they’ve enjoyed in past years, what brought them to the Festival in the first place, and what keeps them coming back. For more information on volunteering at the 2009 Festival, please visit the volunteer page of our website.

Friends since junior high school, Jay and Paul began volunteering together in 2004. Jay works as a purchasing manager for a major manufacturer and Paul is an accountant. These self-described “regular guys” bring a fresh perspective and an open mind to their participation with the Festival.

What has been your favorite show in the Festival?
Paul: My favorite was Eye-95 Re-tarred in 2006. But I also enjoyed The Gate, Adshock, Patio Plastico (and pretty much anything that Brian Sanders is involved with), Suburban Love Songs and Interviews with Hideous Men.

Jay: Some of my favorite performances usually center on Brian Sanders’ creations such as The Gate or Patio Plastico. Not only does he pull together some excellent talent, but I actually get it!

Why do you keep coming back as a volunteer?
Paul: It’s just so much fun. Speaking for myself, I meet people that I wouldn’t ordinarily meet “in real life.” We meet all sorts of people – theater people, “artsy” people, city people (we’re from the suburbs), old people, young people, people from other countries, just people from all walks of life.

From the time we showed up for our first volunteer assignment, even though we were the “new guys,” we weren’t treated like outsiders. We were made to feel very comfortable, like we’d been part of the family all along. And everyone is so appreciative of our being there to help, including the performers themselves. [Jay and I] do a lot of shifts together (we’re a well-oiled machine at this point), but probably just as many individually, so feeling like we belong makes the volunteer experience that much better.

Jay: I get the chance to experience many performances, often with different perspectives as we are occasionally behind the scenes. One of the early years had me volunteering as firewatch. The fire department inspectors came around and by challenging me on the task it made me realize the importance of the volunteers. I guess I answered the questions right; they said thank you and keep it up and didn’t shut the venue or production down.

What are you most excited about in this year’s Festival?
Paul: I usually come each year with a clean slate. Since we’re not really “connected” per se with the performing arts community, what with day jobs and busy lives, we rarely know what’s really hot and what’s not. So, it’s just nice to see people we’ve worked with in the past, maybe catch an artist’s latest endeavor, and meet new people. We almost always get to experience more than one memorable show each year.

Jay: I don’t know what is in store for 2009 from a performance point of view [but you can now check out pretty much the whole Live Arts lineup here] but I do look forward to the familiar faces, the special events, and the extremes the Festival has to offer.

–Karina Kacala

Photo courtesy Paul Watson.