Have you ever walked into a place to be greeted warmly, with smiles and a genuine welcome? With luck that may have happened to you on a few occasions and if so it is an experience that you might wish to repeat. So where are these places that could give you that sort of welcome?
One area is volunteering for charitable organisations. Here you are giving your time to help the charity by supervising their exhibitions or manning the counter in a charity shop. Beyond helping the charity you are also putting yourself in the front line for meeting people and those people will probably have the same values as you, which is a good start to any potential friendship.
As an artist working in my own little studio, I very rarely got out to meet people. So missing company I volunteered to work for an organisation that took over temporarily empty shops and turned them into galleries and music venues. In a short while I was paired up with another artist to be behind the counter and welcome any people who might come in, explain what was going on and how they could use the property.
The first thing was that I was paired up with as I said, another artist and after a few months we had an exhibition together in the shop. Most artists are always searching for exhibition opportunities and here was one that virtually fell into our laps. I gather that at one time some of the public galleries in London would allow their staff to have exhibitions on their premises. I don’t know if the same applies now. Eventually this organisation closed down when the owners managed to sell the shop, so we moved on to another one and when that went the whole exercise finished. During that time a great number of musicians, poets artists and so on got to know each other and were able to form a loose network of artistic colleagues.
I went back to my studio and during that time a new public gallery was built in the town. I decide to volunteer for that, where I am now doing one morning a week. What I discovered was that many of the people who I had worked with previously as a volunteer had decided to do the same and on my first morning I found a number of them now employed by the new gallery. Their previous voluntary work had helped them to produce a good CV for their present employment and gave them the confidence to work with and deal with other people.
What I gained from the past volunteering was meeting so many people with similar tastes to myself. They had an interest in art, folk and rock music, poetry, drama and many other cultural activities. I am still meeting them and I am still getting that warm welcome when I see them. This is something that can happen to anyone, all you need to do is to volunteer.