Festival For Free

In 2011 and 2012 I volunteered at the world music festival WOMADelaide and as an On The Record deadline was looming it seemed a good opportunity for a story.

Every year WOMADelaide offers a free four-day pass to around 150 volunteers in return for some of their time during the long weekend. This especially appeals to young people who want to be part of this unique event without forking out almost $250 for a four-day ticket.

Raya is a long-time fan of the festival who decided to volunteer at the merchandise tent after her parents stopped funding her ticket.

“I’ve always gone to Womad with my family and now that mum’s decided not to pay for me I thought maybe I’ll be cheap and volunteer.”

While Raya says she still would have gone to Womad, for English backpacker Joe, volunteering behind the bar was the only way to see French hip-hop legend Fefe.

“I’m a backpacker so funds are limited.”

“My girlfriend told me to look into it, so I just checked it out online, and it seemed good so I filled out an application form and got the job. I’m quite happy I did it.”

The roles range from selling merchandise to bar work, as well as taking surveys and picking up recycling. The time required depends on the difficulty of the job, with 16 hours spread out over three days about the average. Volunteers will generally get one full day off, allowing them to take in the sights of Australia’s biggest world music festival.

UniSA graduate Hannah has been volunteering for eight years, and she isn’t worried about missing any of the acts she wants to see due to her commitments at the information desk.

“There’s multiple performances of people so it’s pretty easy to catch someone, and they’re pretty flexible with what you do.”

Renee feels the same way, saying that the free ticket allows you to have a far more relaxed WOMADelaide experience.

“I think one thing I like about volunteering and getting the free ticket is that you don’t have that pressure of having to make the most of absolutely every minute while you’re here.”

“I made the choice not to look to heavily at the line-up before I got my shifts. I didn’t want to get excited about something and then find out that I was going to be working at that time. So instead my approach was to just take it as it comes. I don’t even know what’s playing while I’m working.”

Law/Arts student Will Shaw is planning on using his time at Womad to boost his resume, as well as master the art of pulling a pint.

“I love Womad and it’s a good opportunity to get involved and get some volunteer experience for the future because I haven’t done any bar work before, and also the free ticket for four days of Womad is a pretty sweet deal.”

Like Will, Renee sees it a chance to give back to the event.

“It’s really great to be a part of the setup of the festival. I love Womad so much that it is really good to be a part of it at that other level as well.”