By Amanda Smuin
The volunteers at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF), affectionately known as ‘vollies’, are a diverse bunch but they all have one thing in common. They love books.
Jemma Birrell, the Festival’s artistic director, introduced the theme of this year’s Festival as “How to live” with the tagline, “It’s thinking season”. That certainly applies to this years’ crop of volunteers. Rosemary Burnside, a second year vollie, says, “I just love being part of the book world. Everybody there is a thinker and a reader and a sharer of ideas.”
Misty McPhail started as a volunteer, and is now the SWF volunteer coordinator. She says, “I saw how inspiring it was and wanted to get more involved.” After working with other events and as an artist liaison for the Festival in 2012, she started her current position in 2014. She describes her role as the best job on the team”.
The Festival relies on the volunteers to ensure the event is a success. The team has only eight staff year round however, their numbers swell to 15 in the lead up to Festival and they are helped out by 50 to 60 production crew members during the actual event. This year there are 371 events in 60 venues with 445 authors.
Rosemary Burnside, a second year vollie, describes the volunteers as “the glue holding it all together”. Misty McPhail agrees. “We can’t be 50 places at once or do everything; we need the help to run the venues and answer all the questions.” More…