Center of the World Festival, Inc. (COWFEST for short) relies upon its volunteers for important contributions to the charity's work.  This pack will tell you more about our current opportunities and needs.

The Importance of Volunteers

Volunteering is an enriching experience and has given many people a powerful sense of personal fulfillment and growth.  Our volunteers enjoy what they do and are rewarded by the knowledge that their work makes a difference in the lives of people.

If you are looking for a very specific experience or qualification, there is nothing like a bit of volunteering listed on your CV resume to demonstrate your commitment and your open mind--not to mention the skills you pick up.  We will, of course, provide you with references following your time with us.

COWFEST is looking for talented and dedicated individuals to assist in all areas of operations including, but not limited to:  office work, outreach and advocacy, event planning and fundraising, marketing/collateral design, building maintenance and, most importantly, theatre operations.  Please read through the duties descriptions to see where your individual talents might best be utilized.

Background Information

COWFEST is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, incorporated in the State of California, and registered with the Federal Government for tax-deductible charitable donations.  Please see Mission Statement for more complete information. 

COWFEST Board Members and Officers are volunteers, but their role is not part of the scope of this policy.

Annual Program

COWFEST is a year-long program, culminating with an Annual Festival event held on the 3rd weekend in August.  This program is entitled: The CENTER OF THE WORLD Festival.  It includes an "All-Ages Amateur Playwrighting Competition for community readers theatre," a digital Video competition, and a Songwriting Contest, as well as traditional Native American Storytelling.   It is a two-night, two-day experiential event celebrating "everyperson" public participation in the performing arts. 

The venue location, Pine Mountain Club, is the closest community to a historic spiritual site, Mount Pinos (called Iwihinmu in the Chumash language).  This highest peak within the San Emigdio Mountains was worshipped by the Chumash people as the center of the world (Liyikshup), the point "where everything is in balance". 

The theme "Keeping the Balance:  Peace of Mind Plays" will be reflected in storytelling, play scripts, songs, and videos which advocate for the theme of humankind's peaceful co-existence with nature. Each category has specific submission rules.  Festival competition selections are made by local COWFEST volunteers.  

General Overview of Festival Volunteer Duties

It is our aim to make any volunteering experience worthwhile and beneficial.  What we offer you is the opportunity to:
  • see an educational arts program in action
  • gain insight into the running and participation in creative activities overlapping different disciplines:  visual arts, drama, dance, music, poetry, creative writing, etc.
  • assist our local talent in developing creative workshops which further the community involvement in this Festival event
  • contribute to reports and briefings and other tasks, and to get a detailed overview of our work
  • gain practical experience
What we need from you is:
  • an agreed and realistic time commitment
  • the willingness to carry out necessary support work
Some general skills required may include:
  • computer literacy
  • ability and willingness to carry out routine data management
  • confidence to communicate with the public in writing and over the telephone
  • general research skills and experience
  • interest in arts management
  • an active interest in working with children and adults
  • an adaptable approach to new situations and the belief that learning can be fun
  • good communication skills
  • good team work skills for collaborative projects
  • lots of patience and a good sense of humor
  • the ability to encourage and motivate those you work with
  • experience of the creative process is an advantage
  • an interest in artistic/theatrical workshops
Also, as a volunteer for COWFEST, you will be expected to:
  • arrive at any assignment on time and in an organized manner
  • ensure you are made aware of the contact person, and any emergency procedures (fire, etc.) and first aid points at each venue in which you assist
  • communicate any problems or queries to COWFEST office if they arise.  We will be in contact with you, but we also would like you to keep us informed about your experience
  • promote a professional and polite image at all times
  • follow the health and safety policies
  • follow child protection procedures
  • follow the equal opportunities policy statement

How to Apply and How it Works

The procedure is the same for all volunteers, involving a simple application form and informal meeting. 

At the onset, we will ask for your timetable for your commitment, including start and end date as well as days and hours.  You will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement, covering all relevant details. 

You will receive a detailed induction prior to the start of your placement.  This will include such practical matters as hours, health and safety, security, and the operation of any office/stage equipment. 

During your placement, you are required to adhere to our Equal Opportunities and Health and Safety Policies and any other volunteer guidelines. 

We are unable to pay for your travel expenses incurred, but some other types of expenses are covered, depending upon your volunteer position, and these will be discussed with you.

Volunteering Opportunities

As can be seen from the above description of this Festival event, there are many ways in which your volunteer commitment may be used. 

Below are a few of the volunteer openings and the relevant responsibilities.  All responsibilities may vary according to the volunteer's experience and current requirements.

1.  Administrative Assistance

  • Maintaining database of all involved people.  This includes setting up a system for making contact with everyone and checking to ensure that all contact details are up-to-date.
  • Handling mail-outs and information requests.
  • Handling invitations and practical preparation for events/training days.
  • Contributing to developing marketing strategy.
  • Assisting in compiling and maintaining resource library.  This includes setting up a maintenance system, researching new titles, and ordering books as required.
  • Website maintenance:  monitoring search engine entries, links and visits of/to/from the Festival web-site; contributing to the ongoing development and review of the site.
  • Researching funding and fundraising and grant opportunities in support of COWFEST's fundraising work and strategy.
  • Following up press articles/getting copies.
  • Performing general administrative assistance, such as photocopying, designing certificates and invites to after-school clubs, speech groups, etc.

2.  Assistant Workshop Facilitators

  • Assisting in running of workshops related to any or all aspects of the Festival production.
  • Attending planning meetings and contributing to project planning.
  • Remaining aware of the projects learning outcomes and assisting facilitator in meeting these.
  • Helping to facilitate the workshops in a fun, safe and energetic way, designed to encourage both learning and enjoyment.
  • Recording the reactions and responses of the participants during the workshop for the purpose of feeding back to the Festival's steering team.
  • Undertaking any additional administrative tasks or equipment duties when needed (ie., completing registration forms, collecting and returning equipment, providing refreshments, etc.)

3.  Festival Marketing Team

  • Assisting in the final details of preparing and promoting the Festival. 
  • Assembling packets, gifts, and other collateral.
  • Performing clerical work such as making copies and numbering vouchers.
  • Distributing posters and flyers to various venues and neighborhoods.
  • Determining advertising avenues and preparing presentation packages and advertising.
  • Monitoring press releases.

4.  Festival Publicity Team

  • Attending meetings before and during the Festival to become knowledgeable about all plays, readers, etc.
  • Provide answers to guests' questions about the Festival.
  • Provide media presentations about the event.
  • These volunteers must have an outgoing personality and willingness to be interviewed and provide "hype" for the Festival.

5.  Festival Hospitality Team

  • Handling the playwrights and their guests, both before, during, and after the Festival.
  • Making all hospitality arrangements for all participants in the Festival.
  • Arranging discounts, sponsorships, etc., with local hospitality businesses.
  • Helping all people to feel like part of the community and providing all area business contact information (e.g., getting Welcome Visitors Packets, getting Chamber of Commerce brochures, etc.)

6.  Theatrical Stage and Recording Team

  • Be involved during all stages of Festival development.
  • Determine requirements of theatrical presentation as to lighting, microphones, filming, set design, etc.
  • Set up theatrical stage and take down stage works.
  • Arrange for filming and audio recording crews and be liaison between them and Festival Organizers.
  • Knowledge of carpentry, etc., for set-designs.

7.  Merchandise Sales Team

  • Investigate merchandise appropriate for event sales.
  • Prepare presentation to Festival Organizers.
  • Locate refreshment providers.
  • Be fully responsible for all aspects of sales displays at Festival events for both days and nights of the event, including set-up and clean-up.
  • Responsible for reconciling cash and inventory.

8.  Drivers & Site Maintenance

  • Determine housekeeping needs for all pre-events, Festival events, and post-events.
  • Arrange for workers to perform all duties related to housekeeping.
  • Must have physical stamina requirements and be able to handle heavy lifting assistance for other theatrical crews.
  • Available to run errands, have reliable transportation (mileage costs reimbursed), and valid driver's license.
  • Pick up and return stranded volunteers whose services cannot be replaced.
  • Provide security during Festival event.

9.  Ticket Takers & Ushers

  • Greet and help guests locate seats.
  • Take tickets.
  • Give out programs.
  • Explain any audience voting procedures for competitions.

10.  Festival After-Party

  • Determine venue for after-party.
  • Plan and arrange all aspects of Festival after-party.

11.  Statistical Survey Team

  • Participate in design and implementation of all types of survey tallies.
  • Involves participation before, during, and after Festival.
  • Analyzing computer survey system and preparing marketing package to Festival Organizers.

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