Volunteers are Lifeblood of Ottawa Fringe

by Patrick Gauthier

June 16, 2011

JEN TRAPLIN
METRO OTTAWA

June 16, 2011

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is a festival like no other. For starters, it’s not based on just one art form, but brings together all sorts of different performers from all levels of artistic backgrounds. And 100 per cent of the box office revenue goes directly to those artists, which can make planning the festival kind of tricky.

“Having to pay for a festival without that main source of revenue,” says executive producer Natalie Joy Quesnel, “it’s an interesting logistical process. So we depend a lot on donations.”

And, for anyone who wants to donate, the Fringe Festival has made that process very easy. Last year, they became a registered charity so you can donate directly to the Ottawa Fringe, no matter the amount.

“We do a lot with very little,” boasts Quesnel. “Even a $20 donation makes a huge difference. That actually clothes a fair amount of my volunteers.”

Quesnel is the main festival organizer year round. A few months before Fringe, she brings in a staff of roughly 20 people. And, as the festival kicks off, about 300 volunteers are added to that roster.

“Volunteers are absolutely crucial,” says Ottawa Fringe Festival Volunteer Coordinator Louisa Haché. “Our team tackles every aspect of the festival.”

Volunteers are responsible for everything from operating the Front of House (at all fifteen festival venues) to sales and security.

So, why sign up to commit your time for no pay? Haché says it gives people “the chance to give back to a festival that has done so much for the arts community in Ottawa.”

They also get to catch some of these performances for free.

The festival kicks off today and runs for through next weekend. Go to ottawafringe.com for the full schedule and, Quesnel says, don’t be afraid to check out something new.