Open Arts – Interview with Voluntary Chairperson – Margaret Mann

Open Arts wanted to kick off #VolunteersWeek by chatting with Open Arts Voluntary Chairperson and long standing member of the Open Arts Community Choir Margaret Mann, about the benefits of volunteering and why people should get involved.

How did you get involved with Open Arts?

In 2000, the previous CEO of Open Arts, Kate Ingram, told me that they were thinking about starting a choir. At that stage, I had been at Open Arts events but hadn’t thought of getting involved and participating. But, that was when it all changed! I joined the choir and they rest is, as they say, history! Joining the choir gave me the confidence to get more involved in the organisation so in 2012, I joined the board.Being on the board has taught me about the full scope of the whole organisation, how the wheels turn so to speak. Over the years I have learnt about the responsibility of being on the board and I have had great training, which enabled me firstly, to become Vice Chair and eventually become Chair in 2015.

What do you enjoy most about being the Chair of Open Arts?

The chocolate biscuits at the meetings! Seriously though, it is the friendship and teamwork. When I represent Open Arts as Chair, I am proud to be part of such a brilliant organisation and all of our achievements! The opportunities that I have had, on the board, as Chair and as a choir member are priceless. I have done things that I would never have imagined and with the choir, particularly, I have travelled to places I never thought I would.

What is your favourite memory?

That is a difficult one, as I have already said, I have had so many amazing opportunities. But, I will highlight the choir competing on the BBC’s Last Choir Standing.The reach that Open Arts achieved through that was amazing, it was the biggest platform that the choir had at that stage to proudly show what we can do! It gave everyone the appetite to do more! And we definitely have, from travelling to America to winning 3 gold medals at the European Choir Games!

Why should people volunteer?

The more I was involved with Open Arts, the more I wanted to give back. Volunteering is a journey and it has helped build confidence and skills for me that I never thought I would achieve. Importantly, I have made friends for life and I am part of an amazing family of people, who do amazing things!

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.