Go Deeper

Volunteer Spotlight: Pat O’Bannon

Posted July 24th, 2009

People volunteer with Live Arts for all sorts of reasons: free tickets, the opportunity to give back to Philadelphia, or just the excuse to get out of the house and see some awesome theater. For Pat O’Bannon, it’s all about the folks he meets along the way.

When and why did you start volunteering?
In 2006. I was an usher for I-95 and I was a firewatch at the Cabaret in the old Poor Henry’s building.

Volunteering strengthens my connections to the community. Yes, the performances can be entertaining and emotional. But for me the real satisfaction comes from meeting people – other volunteers, patrons, and performers.

A little people story . . . until very, very recently I had never met Nick Stuccio. However, three weeks ago I visited a hospital patient, and we just talked about life. Conversation turned to arts and culture, and the patient mentioned that he was acquainted with the Fringe and Nick. Moreover, Nick had called the hospital a couple times to express his concern about this patient. I later had the opportunity to introduce myself to Nick and relate the connection. Nick quickly knew who I was talking about, and was able to update me on the patient’s current health.

Philadelphia is a small town, and the arts and culture clique is especially small. This is a really sensitive and savvy group of folks.

Why do you keep coming back as a volunteer?
It’s a great volunteer experience. Every year I get to explore the city, take in some performances, and hang out with creative people. I’m a “left-brainer,” but the arts scene is accessible, inviting, and welcoming.

What has been your most “Fringe” moment?

Everything with Scott Johnston. He is a nut. The guy is everywhere. I run into him at his usual haunts: Silk City, North 3rd, and the Film Festival. But he’s also on Rittenhouse Square at the Ethical Society, outside of a bar at midnight on the corner of 13th and Pine, and riding his bicycle against traffic on 6th street below the Vine Street expressway. He is a nut!

What are you most excited about in this year’s festival?

The Icebox! My favorite space is the Icebox in the Crane Arts building. The Icebox works for me on a number of levels. Location: it’s easy for me to get to, 10 minutes by foot. The space: a giant white room. I think of heaven and infinity. The memories: great Live Arts shows and InLiquid holds fun and memorable events there.

What do you do with your time when you aren’t “Fringe-ing”?
I am a frequent volunteer at Philadelphia arts and culture events: the Film Festival, Free Library Author Events, WXPN and WHYY Membership Campaigns. I’m in a couple of book clubs. I ride a bike and I go to the gym. Life is good.

–Karina Kacala

Photo by Karina Kacala.