What’s it like Volunteering at DARTS? Our wonderful volunteer, Nickin Alexander started volunteering with DARTS as part of his Communications degree in 2016 and liked it so much he’s still with us now that he’s graduated. We’ve relied on him for research and analysis, writing, planning and his great skills behind a camera.
Nickin took time out to tell us all about his experience.
How did you get involved with DARTS?
I first got involved with DARTS, or Kultour as it was called at the time, through a work placement for a university subject in my final year at UTS. I was studying for a bachelor of Communications majoring in Social Inquiry and the placement was described as a research task that I would undergo under the select period of time which was a literature review on the current landscape of diversity in the arts.
What was your role?
My role was to assist Dr. Paula Abood and Executive Director Lena Nahlous with a literature review on the current landscape of diversity in the arts and its significance in 5 main areas. They were focused in a local, national and international landscape, as well as collecting information from social media, news articles and stories and material from citizen journalists.
What was a typical day for you?
A typical day involved drinking coffee and eating at my desk as I scoured the Internet and other material for any type of program, article or media piece on diversity in the arts.
“Experience, insight and a newfound respect and love for the arts.”
Did you get professional opportunities that you would not have had otherwise?
Yes I did. Lena and Kevin provided me work to do while I finished my final year at uni and thereafter. The workforce is hard to break into and they not only provided me with valuable experience but also networking opportunities and a real clear picture of where I want to go in terms of my goals, aspirations and career.
Did you make useful connections that you would not have had otherwise?
Yes, but more importantly I met interesting people and gained different perspectives and a new found respect for people of different ethnicities in the arts sector and for those that advocate to make a difference.
Did you have fun?
I admit the first 3-4 months were somewhat tedious and a little dreary, staring at a computer screen was hard and can be challenging especially when there is so much to get through, but after doing a variety of other things throughout my volunteering I have to say that I did and still do enjoy coming into the office every week.
Any other benefits to volunteering?
Experience, insight and a newfound respect and love for the arts are just a few examples of benefits to volunteering.
“I long now to be the hero of my own story and working for DARTS has helped me realise that it doesn’t matter if I’m brown or not white to be so.”
What was the working atmosphere like?
The atmosphere is good. Lena is a great leader and communicator and does not hesitate in showing love and support for ideas and effort. She is also very firm in what she wants from us as an organisation and is fair on our work and participation. Kevin is always insightful and is always super keen and passionate to discuss and talk about current issues and stories that are relevant to what we do, and Sonia, although being fairly new, always makes you feel comfortable and not at all like a normal office, making sure that everything runs smoothly as well as keeping up energy and doing good work as well. A well-rounded environment, which has never been hard to come in for.
Would you recommend volunteering with DARTS to others?
Absolutely. Even though it may not seem like the most lucrative field, the work is good and it’s for a great cause. Everyone can agree that equal representation in the Arts is a right for all artists and is something that the western world sorely needs. This is a purpose that drives all of us and is also very relevant and rewarding to fulfil.
What do you like about DARTS?
I think it’s because I never felt like I could be an artist myself growing up. I was a dancer and I love to write. But I always felt like I was the backup character or sidekick in even my own story. I wish that an organisation like DARTS was more prominently around when I was younger so to encourage me in my pursuits as an artist and an entertainer. I long now to be the hero of my own story and working for DARTS has helped me realise that it doesn’t matter if I’m brown or not white to be so.
Do you think DARTS is making a difference?
So far I think with the reach we have created, I think DARTS has done well, especially considering it’s now almost like a start up. But like Lena and Kevin have said in the past, more can be done and that’s why it’s important to keep on working to that cause.
What was your best moment working with DARTS?
My best moment working with DARTS can’t be limited to one particular day or moment, and I’m being completely honest. Every day is great, but the most pivotal for me is probably getting asked to tell a little bit about myself and why DARTS means so much to me to the Board, late last year. I, a mere humble intern and volunteer, was asked for his opinion, and was asked because they felt like it mattered. I was truly happy to do so, as many people have said that interns and volunteers rarely get any say in anything, let alone get their voice heard. But that brief moment was a chance for me to paint a picture of a young man who just wanted to be creative and how DARTS could help not only him, but also many others to do so.
“I, a mere humble intern and volunteer, was asked for his opinion, and was asked because they felt like it mattered.”