Volunteering for fun at Portico
The Portico of Ards in Portaferry, a member of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership, is well known for delivering a fantastic range of concerts and has become a big draw for tourists as well as locals, but did you know it's run almost exclusively by volunteers? The charity that runs Portico has just one employee who manages a team of dozens of local people and it is these volunteers that come together to bring arts and music events to the Ards peninsula.
After 18 months of being forced to close due to the Covid restrictions, the Portico of Ards in Portaferry has finally been able to open its doors to live audiences again, but with more than 50 concerts rescheduled over the last year and a half, there’s a jam packed schedule between between September’s Comedy Arts Festival and Christmas. With at least one concert every weekend, this is wonderful news for lovers of live music and comedians, but it’s turned into a bit of a headache for Portico’s Manager Dr Verity Peet.
“It’s great that we’re so busy, and we love having audiences back at Portico, but we’d really like some new volunteers to get involved. We ask people to commit to at least one evening each month but there’s plenty of choice in what kind of gigs they can help out at and what roles they can do. Quite frankly, we’re really grateful to our volunteers - they are the lifeblood of this place. Without them, we simply couldn’t survive. Volunteers do so much here, from gardening to fundraising, but at the moment we especially need more help with ushering at concerts on Friday or Saturday nights.”
So what does it take to be a volunteer at Portico? Local artist Sara Brown has been volunteering at Portico for several years and loves it. “I’m more than happy to support a venue on my doorstep because it brings great events to Portaferry and is so much easier than travelling to Belfast. It’s really easy work and there’s always great craic. I’ve met new friends, discovered new kinds of music and got a social life for free! What’s not to like?”
The Comedy Arts Festival coming up at Portico starts on Friday 17 Sept and includes stand up comedians Paddy Raff and Neil Delamere, sketch show Our Jimmy, operetta The Pirates of Penzance, Motown tribute band The Iconettes and a family show featuring live organ and piano duets with silent animation. The festival is supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. After that there’s Ryan McMullan, The Bjorn Identity, The Shamrock Tenors and lots more. If these are the kinds of events you’d like to volunteer at then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or to see what events are coming up visit https://www.porticoards.com/