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Thread: Shea's ushers out volunteers sitting at shows

  1. #1
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Buffalo, New York, United States

    Shea's ushers out volunteers sitting at shows

    Shea's ushers out volunteers sitting at shows

    Updated: March 14, 2012, 11:25 AM
    A drama is taking place at Shea's Performing Arts Center that doesn't appear on stage.
    It also can't be viewed from the theater's 3,019 seats, because it's about the ushers who direct patrons to them.

    The story's plot concerns a number of longtime, older volunteers -- some with hip replacements, bad backs and medical conditions -- who say management no longer allows them to sit in the theater to watch performances even when there are plenty of open seats. They also say they are frequently talked down to and treated callously by staff rather than being shown appreciation for the work they perform.
    "I would say this past year is about the worst, where they really have come down very hard on the ushers," said Mary Ann Devlin, who has ushered at Shea's since 1983.

    Prior to a Feb. 17 performance, Devlin said, she was told to leave after standing outside the volunteer entrance door to seek signatures on a petition that read, "Shea's volunteers requesting permission to sit in the theater during performances."

    Sally Moehlau, 83, said she also quit Shea's after being told she, too, couldn't sit in the last row of the upper balcony.

    For almost 20 years, Moehlau said, she drove back and forth from Clarence, paid for parking, arrived 1 1/2 hours early to stuff programs and get show information, and typically spent an additional 2 1/2 to 3 hours during and after the performance before heading home.
    But the atmosphere became noticeably worse a few years ago, she said, when the theater hired an operations manager to oversee things.
    "They've put such a tight rein on people that the enjoyment has left," she said.

    Jeanette Swartz, who has ushered at Shea's for 12 years, said the ushers have reasonable expectations.
    "We would never complain about not sitting if a show is sold out. We're talking about when the theater has sold 1,200 or 1,800 tickets out of 3,000, and we're not still allowed to sit," Swartz said.
    So what do you think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I do not think it is right to allow volunteers to sit and watch the show while in volunteer mode. I face a similar challenge with a conference I help organize that sells out each year. People offer to volunteer just to get in but are unable or unwilling to do the required tasks needed from volunteers or simply want to attend the conference and not be bothered with some tasks.

    Hate to say it but the job of an usher, paid or volunteer, is something the requires standing for long periods of time. If you're not able to do're not able to volunteer to be an usher.

    That being said, you do have to show appreciation for those who do help out. What they should do is a volunteer appreciation program where each person who volunteers gets to go to a single performance on the house. Give them good seats and let them enjoy one show as a guest.

    I am also pretty sure that if an open call were put out for volunteers, there would not be any issue in finding people who would be willing to take up this program.

  3. #3
    Member wheresthesun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    I think the administration shot itself in the foot and lost some dedicated volunteers. Volunteers are a limited resource and there are a ton of organizations competing for their attention. Volunteers should receive thorough training and the "sitting in the back of the house" rules should be made clear from the start If volunteers aren't comfortable with that, they will walk away. However, for the Director to say that volunteers should not be passionate about theater in order to volunteer at Sheas, is akin to telling Roswell volunteers that they shouldn't give a crap about cancer. STUPID!

  4. #4
    Member granpabob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Wagener, South Carolina
    how does the theater get around minimum wages laws. if these "Volunteers" are working for the theater why aren't they paid do they get a free show instead of wages. It would be like a bar getting volunteer waitress's if they get free drinks.
    One good thing about growing old is your secrets are safe with your friends they can't remember them either

  5. #5
    Member 300miles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Shea's is non-profit. A for-profit business like a bar can't have unpaid volunteers doing actual work.

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