So you want to be an NJPAC volunteer?

Here are five things you probably didn’t know.


Before there was an NJPAC, there were NJPAC volunteers, rallied together by Dena Lowenbach (who remains a key member of the Arts Center’s universe). Today, more than 250 of them not only provide a supportive arm to the staff, but our guests benefit from their know-how on practically a daily basis.


The volunteers are also known for their close-knit friendships, wholehearted team spirit – and taste for nuttiness: Their season kick-offs at the Arts Center elevate themes like wacky game shows or the Fabulous ‘50s to inconceivable levels.


This crew obviously doesn’t stand on ceremony but they take their mission very seriously – and we bet YOU have what it takes. The following are insider factoids about volunteering at NJPAC:


You and the arts together can profoundly influence the life of a child.


From the moment a student steps through the door at NJPAC for a class, a performance or an activity, he or she is likely to encounter the guidance of a volunteer. And that volunteer could very well watch this child grow creatively and vertically through the years. “I began volunteering at NJPAC in 1999 after retiring from Prudential Insurance Company,” says Jeanette Marable. “Some of the students have become professional musicians, some have returned to NJPAC to work in Arts Education. … It was inspiring to witness their progress.”


Volunteers are from your neighborhood and in your neighborhood.


NJPAC’s volunteers work closely with Community Engagement in bringing family programs beyond four walls and into schools, churches and other public spaces throughout New Jersey. This could translate into assisting with a dance workshop in Asbury Park, staffing a booth at a street fair in Nutley, or participating in the massive coordination of the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.


One of Doris Revis’ favorite programs is Books on the Move, a free series that brings dramatic readings and related arts activities to 30 venues each year. “We go from the inner cities of Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, etc., to the suburbs of Glen Ridge, Chatham and Millburn,” she explains. “The kids are the same everywhere – eager to learn and be drawn into the awesomeness of books.


“I feel that we don’t just take NJPAC out into the community; we always bring a little bit of the community back with us to NJPAC.”


You’ll learn something new from interesting people.


Volunteers lend many helping hands to Guest Services, which has a direct connection to our patrons. If you’re looking for a restaurant recommendation at the info desk in the lobby or checking your coat, there’s a likelihood you’ll be greeted by a volunteer. More than a few volunteers report that their most rewarding experiences are striking up conversations with audience members and working alongside NJPAC’s Teaching Artists.


“I got to meet and help amazing people (and) see how talented the kids and instructors are,” recalls Vincent Veneziano, an intern from Ramapo College who became immersed in set design at NJPAC. “This is what I learned from the internship program: responsibility, helping, organizing and creating.”


Speaking of interns, they sometimes discover new career paths here.


The Arts Center’s interns are required to dedicate 10% of their hours to the Department of Volunteer Services. Their majors vary from business and public administration to marketing and communications. Sometimes their experiences at NJPAC coincide with their classroom learning, but often students venture into other areas of the entertainment industry that appeal to them. “This internship has prompted me to look into a business management minor,” writes Erick Correa from Rutgers in New Brunswick. “I participated in a few volunteer and social media projects,” notes Elida Abreu, a student at Essex County College. “There was something new for me to do every day, so my daily activities constantly changed.”


You don’t have to be fluent in the arts – just fond of them.  


Diane Evans says she is more comfortable in an office setting than near a stage, even though she raised a dancer daughter. The Linden resident enjoyed a long career as a professional accountant with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy; after responding to a notice seeking volunteers at NJPAC, she was quickly welcomed by the Development Department. Once a week, she lightens the workload by organizing and reconciling documents and monitoring the department’s software programs for efficiency.


Social media, computing, security, construction, education … those are just a sampling of the diverse disciplines that contribute to the running of an arts center. Volunteers keep the operations humming along. And you don’t have to be able to tell a pirouette from pizzicato.


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Oct. 12, 2018