► Star and Shadow Cinema Volunteer
An entirely volunteer-run cinema, cultural and social space with a busy and very diverse schedule of films, gigs, meetings, workshops and regular community group users.
We have a bar/gig room, a cinema, a large foyer/exhibition space and a shared office, as well as a darkroom, workshop and resources such as a screenprinter. We also operate as a kind of alternative social centre, with certain regular community groups.
We host a whole range of events, many of which are ‘niche’, alternative, arty and non-mainstream. These are suggested and decided upon in open weekly meetings (with no management committee).
Recruitment and screening process for volunteers:
- CDM volunteers should first familiarise themselves with the ethos and character of the cinema, and then arrange to chat with Robin and/or Mike.
- Everyone who gives time to volunteer at the cinema is treated as an equal, so there is no ‘management committee’ that will give instruction: the CDM volunteers therefore need to be willing to co-supervise their own placement (negotiate as equals).
- All volunteers are encouraged to attend the weekly Monday meetings (6pm) where our decisions and important discussions take place on a consensus basis (ie. striving for full agreement, no voting). This is the place for introductions, new ideas, updates, resolution of problems - and everything else.
- All volunteers must first attend a volunteer induction (1st Thursday and 2nd Saturday of the month) and then sign up to shifts according to their personal interest and availability. New volunteers identify themselves at the start of a shift so that the experienced volunteers can then show them the ropes. An event programmer and keyholder for the building will also be present.
- There are particular interest groups for things such as the bar, finances or tech (lights, sound, projection), with email lists etc.. which new volunteers are encouraged to join if they can offer the time.
CRB required: not normally required
Times you can volunteer:
(a) whenever the cinema is open to the public (most evenings and weekends – see website www.starandshadow.org.uk),
(b) through prior arrangement, when a particular group or interesting project has arranged to use the space (eg. Tuesdays 4 – 7pm for English language conversation).
Description of role:
As an all-volunteer cinema, there is no limit to the activities in which a volunteer may get involved.
Areas include building construction & maintenance, film projection, events organising, language teaching, filming & film-making, publicity and communications, cleaning, film developing, bar work, working with money, minute-taking, supporting community groups, and artistic collaboration. We treat the cinema as an open creative space where anything can happen, so there will be multiple opportunities arising each week, and it is down to the volunteer to decide how best they wish to contribute to this.
Aspects to consider: the cinema is an open, public place, accommodating all kinds of people. Sometimes there is alcohol, sometimes events go on till 4am, sometimes there is a particular political or social idea behind an event, and some users of the cinema (both volunteers and visitors) may also be vulnerable or requiring sensitivity. There are also particular roles, such as budgeting, 35mm film projection, or working with children that would need an increased commitment from the part of the CDM volunteers, and negotiation at a general meeting.
All volunteers are equal, and are involved in an ongoing process of collaboration and negotiation with other volunteers. The CDM volunteers will therefore need to make a commitment to follow the cinema’s ethos and consensus method of organisation, and to take an equal lead in their placement.
Specific skills required:
Skills of cinema volunteers vary immensely, from specialist film projection (18 hours+ training) to basic cleaning. Specific roles will be suggested according to volunteers’ interests and the cinema’s programme.
Due to the nature of our organisation, the most important skills are social and personal skills. For example, CDM volunteers need to be tolerant and able to work with a very diverse range of fellow-volunteers, and to be able to cope with an open, dynamic situation. Personal initiative, patience, and an open mind to alternative viewpoints, and a commitment to consensus decision-making.
It is also pretty crucial that a potential volunteer is interested in, and sympathetic to, the type of events to be found on the cinema’s programme, www.starandshadow.org.uk
Training required for the role (number of hours, specific times i.e. weekend):
(a) Robin Brown and Michael Duckett, experienced Star and Shadow volunteers, will meet with interested CDM volunteers to introduce the cinema’s way of operating, and to explore and facilitate potential roles.
(b) All volunteers must attend a volunteer induction (approx. 1.5 hours, 1st Thursday and 2nd Saturday of the month).
(c) Introduction/presentation to a General Meeting (Mondays, 6pm), which is an opportunity for CDM volunteers to talk through their ideas for their voluntary placement with other cinema volunteers.
(d) Ongoing willingness to talk with other cinema volunteers and be willing to work as part of a diverse whole, to accept any specific training if it arises, and also to say ‘no’ if somebody gives them orders!