Behind The Door – Volunteer Manager Michael

Behind the Door – This article will be part of our ongoing Meet the Team Series, which will highlight some of our many volunteers that make Hidden Door possible. For this edition, we’re catching up with Michael, one of our volunteer managers for Hidden Door 2023.

My name is Michael (He/Him) and I’m one of the volunteer managers for Hidden Door 2023 which is taking place at The Complex (Former Scottish Widows building) May 31 – June 4.

I moved to Edinburgh at the end of 2015 and was keen to explore as much of the City as possible so I signed up to every mailing list which existed.  I remember reading about Hidden Door’s concept of taking over empty, disused/unused spaces for displaying art and I was intrigued. Knowing that Hidden Door locations would be completely transformed for the festival created an opportunity to explore and enjoy a truly unique experience. The 2016 festival was in/on Kings Stable Road, and I was blown away with the creativity of the visual art and how artists used the available space. I continued to attend Hidden Door festivals 2017-2019 as an audience member.

I’ve always volunteered with different organisations and really enjoy the social aspect of volunteering. During COVID, online events became the norm and I struggled with that so in 2022 as in-person events returned, I decided to get involved with Hidden Door. I’d seen their call-out looking for volunteers to join them at the Old Royal High School to help with site prep ahead of the festival.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to be doing before arriving and was a little apprehensive. The volunteer briefing, seeing the available PPE and chatting with other volunteers put me at rest. I spent the next couple of weekends on-site pulling up old carpets, moving furniture, weeding, painting and just generally getting the site ready. It was rewarding work seeing the site transformed within a couple of weeks into a festival venue with music stages, food stalls and art in almost every available space.

I volunteered for some stewarding shifts during the festival, and it was great fun seeing people excited to explore the spaces I’d helped to create. I also spent a couple of nights enjoying the festival (Yay, no hi-vis!) with other volunteers, which was nice. A couple of the volunteers I met joined the Hidden Door team at the same time as myself and we’ve found our way into roles that focus on different parts of Hidden Door.

I was blown away
with the creativity
of the visual art

and how artists used
the available space

My current role, as a volunteer manager, focuses on recruiting, coordinating and supporting the team of festival volunteers, which can range between 50-200 volunteers. This involves delivering briefings, preparing rotas, reviewing policies and volunteer handbook, liaising with other Hidden Door teams and ensuring our volunteers have the best possible experience.

I didn’t realise how big the Hidden Door team is and how much work goes into organising a festival until I got involved. Walking around this year’s site with the other volunteer managers has been incredibly useful in understanding the vital role that our volunteers play in helping to deliver the festival. I’m really excited to see new faces for this years festival team, as we transform our biggest venue yet. 

If you’re keen to get involved with volunteering at this years festival, you can view volunteering opportunities via the link below: