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Calling All Arts Volunteers!

A small group of Arts Ambassadors met at Pelham Art Center earlier this year to discuss the upcoming year of the arts in Westchester.

by Judith Weber, Volunteer Coordinator of ArtsWestchester’s Arts Ambassador Program 

Spring is finally here and, after an extended isolation, many people are finding that there is a need to re-engage with life in the “outside world.”  In Westchester, that re-engagement is being powerfully driven by the arts.  It has been long recognized that the arts enrich lives, create valued connections, and inspire growth and creativity. The arts are also a cultural resource – not only for participating audiences, but for those who volunteer behind the scenes. 

When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. In ArtsWestchester’s Arts Ambassadors program for instance, volunteers are provided with a “behind the scenes” opportunity to support the arts directly. The volunteers, called “Ambassadors,” help the organization in a variety of areas like assisting with office work, supporting educational programs, and representing ArtsWestchester at cultural events and exhibitions. 

According to Arts Ambassador Linda Eatmon, the combination of providing support and enjoying the results of that support produces the best of all outcomes: “The variety of programs brings a unique sense of richness and flavor to my interests as a volunteer. It has expanded my understanding of the many ways in which the arts can be enjoyed and supported.” 

Since she joined the program in 2018, Eatmon has attended sewing sessions for Metropolis Sunrise, an upcoming public art project; worked as a greeter at JazzFest White Plains; and assisted in reading and taking notes on grant proposals with ArtsWestchester’s grants department. She also regularly provides evaluative reports for projects that are funded by ArtsWestchester, including musician Pamela Sklar’s “Words Into Music” performance in Mt. Vernon and the Town of Pelham Public Library’s recent family ice sculpture event.

On the whole, these community volunteers value the arts and understand the role that the arts play in improving education, enriching lives and building communities. This type of participation in support of cultural activities throughout the county assists organizations like ArtsWestchester in fulfilling their missions to provide the arts for their audiences, thereby reinforcing and growing the County’s foundation of cultural enrichment. 

A version of this article first appeared in the May 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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