Jazz Festival volunteers (in red) © Alayne McGregor, 2017
Volunteers (in red T-shirts) at the 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival. © Alayne McGregor, 2017

At Ottawa's summer music festivals – the Jazz Festival, Music & Beyond, Bluesfest, and Chamberfest – almost all of the hundreds of people who who keep the festival going are volunteers. And these festivals are already looking for volunteers for this summer.

Whether you want to sell tickets, usher at concerts, work on stages, sell beer or T-shirts, or pick up garbage (surprisingly, it can be fun), there’s a volunteer task that you could enjoy doing.

This Sunday (April 15), the Ottawa Jazz Festival is opening up applications for new volunteers (returning volunteers do not need to reapply). You will be asked about your skills, availability, and what volunteer jobs you're interested in. Applications for more popular slots close quickly, so it's advisable to apply soon.

Opportunities range from selling tickets, to driving musicians, to stage crew, to selling beer, to access control at the different venues. By volunteering, you also become a voting member of the festival, and can move motions and vote on its board of directors at its annual general meeting.

Chamberfest (in late July and early August) is already looking for volunteers for tasks including ushering, stage crew, box office, driving, and marketing and publicity distributors. You can register and get more information by filling out the form on their website.

The Music & Beyond festival in early July is asking interested classical music fans to register and then watch for 2018 festival opportunities to become available.

Bluesfest (in early July) is already looking for certain specialized volunteers. Its general volunteer recruitment opens May 16 at 7 p.m.

The biggest perk of volunteering is being able to hear music for free. Festivals generally offer concert access to volunteers who sign up for a minimum number of shifts, as well as a T shirt to wear while on shifts. Bluesfest also offers free meals and free OC Transpo trips to its site.

But volunteers are also supposed to reliably show up (on time!) for their shifts and work to serve customers. Each of the festivals has a volunteer code of conduct. Chamberfest, for example, bans smoking and "Unnecessary use of electronic devices (i.e. cell phones, iphones, blackberries, ipods, tablets, etc.)" while on duty.

Alayne McGregor has been selling t-shirts at the Ottawa Jazz Festival as a volunteer for 28 years

Read related stories: