Some participants in a new “Festival City Volunteers” scheme are expected to get their first taste of the city’s flagship cultural events this summer during the roll-out of the project in August.
The volunteers are planned to become the new friendly face of the festivals in both the Old and New Towns – highlighting the range of events that are on, helping to find key venues and offering advice on buying tickets. A 40-strong army of volunteers is due to be recruited for the scheme, which is hoped to be expanded to several hundred in future years and involve events throughout the year.
All participants will undergo two days of training about the festivals, how to find your way around the city when they are on, visitor attractions, customer service and public transport.
During the festivals they will get access to major events like the opening curtain-raiser to the Edinburgh International Festival and a preview performance of the Tattoo, behind-the-scenes access and guided tours of venues, and discounted ticket offers.
Lothian Buses, one of the main partners in the project, will be creating special uniforms for the volunteers as well as providing a base for them in their shops and offering free travel passes. Volunteers must agree to do a minimum of six four-hour shifts during the festivals.
Areas like Granton, Craigmillar and Sighthill, where there are low levels of participation in the festivals, have been targeted for the £30,000 pilot, which is being run by umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh.
Edinburgh College students being encouraged to sign up for the project, which it is hoped will help some participants find work or secure places on training programmes. The scheme, which has been partly inspired by the success of volunteers during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is also open to anyone in the city to apply to before the 3 July deadline.
The project website states: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience. We will train you to build confidence, customer service skills and cultural knowledge. We’re looking for people who want to develop an interest in arts and culture, and who would like to increase their confidence, connections, skills or employability.”
Festivals Edinburgh director Julia Amour said: “We really want to reach out across the city to different communities to give more people an opportunity to experience the festivals and learn more about them.”