Cupar Arts Festival, Maddy Lyons

Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at an arts festival? Find out here – Maddy Lyons, currently the Volunteer Coordinator for Cupar Arts Festival, spoke to Jenny Messenger about the huge job of organising everything to do with our all-important volunteers.

Tell me a bit about yourself – what you do and why do you do it?

I am from San Francisco, California and I am a third year at the University of St Andrews where I study Art History and English. I love to read, write, and make art. I am particularly fond of ceramics and have been doing it for years. I absolutely adore the outdoors and I spend as much time outside as I possibly can whether I’m hiking or swimming or horseback riding. I am really excited that the Cupar Arts Festival has so many performances and activities that are outside the exhibition spaces. I think that nature is one of the best sources of inspiration the world has to offer.

How did you get involved with Cupar Arts Festival?

I happened to see a poster advertising for volunteers for the Cupar Arts Festival and I contacted Karen Spy from the committee. She asked me if I would be interested in taking on a bigger role and I immediately said yes.

What was your first impression of the festival?

At first I thought the festival would be small with solely local artists, but after speaking to Karen and learning more about the artists I realised my first impression was completely wrong. I couldn’t imagine that a small town like Cupar could offer such an international and mixed range of art and artists. What I liked most about the festival was that it was completely born out of the committee’s passion for making and viewing art. The festival was started by a small group of artists from Cupar who wanted an opportunity to share their art with the public and provide a space for others to do the same. Now years after the first festival, that same passion for sharing art is still very much present. It was this palpable passion for art that made me want to get involved.

What’s your role within Cupar Arts Festival?

My role is Volunteer Coordinator, which means I am in charge of all things related to volunteers. The role involves recruiting volunteers, creating a schedule of their hours for the festival, organising meetings, and ensuring that they understand their role. When the festival comes around I will be coordinating all the volunteers’ transportation, making sure they are where they are meant to be when they are meant to be there and if they aren’t, finding someone to cover for them. This festival is the biggest yet and on top of that all sections of the exhibition must be invigilated which means that our volunteers are vital to the success of the festival. I need to make sure that they are both happy and effective.

Do you have anything in particular you’re looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I am looking forward to seeing everything. I have viewed the various buildings that we will be using as exhibition spaces and they are beautiful but they will also need a bit of work before they will be ready. I am most excited to see their transformation from unused county buildings to contemporary art gallery spaces. In terms of the art itself, I am really looking forward to seeing Charles Avery’s sea monster. I have seen it in storage and it looks amazing but I know it will be even better once assembled in its exhibition space.

Do you hope to carry on working in the arts sector?

I would love to work in the arts sector. I love event planning so I could see myself getting involved in organizing arts festivals in the future. I also really enjoy interior design and could see myself pursuing that as a career while volunteering at arts festivals and museums. I love creating spaces, whether that space is a gallery or a bedroom.

Would you like to add anything else?

I would just like to say that if you have enjoyed the Cupar Arts Festival in the past you should get involved! We are still looking for volunteers, as we need as many as we can get. It is a great way to get to know Cupar, to meet art connoisseurs as well as artists, and to give back to the community in general. It is very easy to become a volunteer, just email volunteer@cupararts.org.uk.