Volunteer Handbook


Background & History

Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound was founded as a project of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (KWS) with its first festival activities appearing in 1998. It moved to a biennial format in 2001, which was the first year it had dedicated administrative support. Free community events, activities embracing the surrounding environment and the use of non-traditional spaces have been at the core of the festival since its’ beginning. Open Ears has received awards from the Kitchener Downtown BIA in 1998 for its contribution to the arts in the downtown and in 2009 receives an Arts Award.

In 2010 Open Ears began to operate independently from the KWS forming a not‐for‐profit corporation with a Board of Directors. The following year it produced its first independent festival successfully. Following the 2011 festival, founding Artistic Director Peter Hatch asked to be replaced as Artistic Director so that someone with a fresh approach could be brought in. His commitment to the success of Open Ears remained and he agreed to become a member of the Board of Directors guiding the transition. The General Manager also agreed to continue.

Following the 2011 Festival, Open Ears began to seriously consider whether it was possible to continue as a biennial festival operating independently rather than as a project with another organization. Audiences were eroding. The concern about Open Ears losing traction if there were no activities to keep a profile within the community lead to a “Between the Ears” event in the spring of 2012. A weekend event, percussionists from Sudbury, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Toronto, London, Windsor and the Yukon came together for workshops and performances. For the first time Open Ears offered educational activities resulting in over 250 secondary students participating in workshops.

Discussions about further collaboration with CAFKA also began. The common programming elements of being biennial festivals operating in the same year and the programming of installations – sound installations presented by Open Ears and CAFKA visual art installations provided a good place to start.

It was determined that the Festivals would work well Together while maintaining separate identities and programming. Both made changes to their festival schedules agreeing to present concurrently running festivals in June of the even years beginning in 2014. To manage the transition, a joint weekend of programming was planned for May 31 and June 1, 2013





Artistic Program

Performances have taken place in a variety of venues, often abandoned buildings or odd corners in downtown Kitchener. As the core of the City becomes healthier the challenge has become more interesting and now the festival looks for interesting ways for the community to interact with its programming. A good example is the Walper Hotel performances of the 2013 Between the Ears mini-festival as well as the programming in the City Hall Square.



Goal Statement

Open Ears provides an ongoing exploration of transformative music & sound. We open ears everywhere including our own.


Our Visions & Values


Unique Transformative Camp Experience

The festival is regarded as a place that creates fond memories of a wonderful time with new and old friends that is unique to Waterloo Region.


WellSeasoned Cast Iron Pan

Just as a good cast iron pan produces the best flavour, Open Ears has a foundation that supports and enhances the artistic vision. Fearless


Compassionate Explorations

Open Ears continues to explore music and sound and remains committed to attracting those interested in exploring cutting-edge performance. Through offering opportunities to experience the festival through public, outdoor presentations we offer ways to experience the festival without commitment. All of the above is based on the realization that sometimes we will fail, but if we are not prepared to fail, we will not continue to be an innovative leading organization.


Symbiotic Birthing Ground for Culture

Through artist commissions and residencies we provide opportunities for deeper exploration of music and sound. Our patrons are curious and fearless and will travel to attend the festival. We have a larger digital presence so we can continue ‘conversations’ when not in festival mode.


Sustained Engagement

Open Ears has the capacity to sustain engagement within the community through educational outreach and programming designed to attract the curious. These activities continue throughout the year.

Open Ears Everywhere Including Our Own: Open Ears is proactive as well as reactive. We collaborate; we have effective & wide-reaching public relations and marketing. We engage schools to push our artistic ideals, building a community of arts conscious people.


Active Presence

As a result of our activity within and to the community, and an annual presence, others are eager to contribute financially towards our activities seeing Open Ears as a wise investment with a good rate of return.

Recognized Identity

Open Ears is recognized and celebrated as an innovative organization recognized internationally for its artistic growth and has developed a ‘tribe’ of loyal followers. The focus will remain music and sound.



Contact Information

Open Ears Telephone: (226) 792-9526

Email:   info@openears.ca


Emergency Information

Open Ears will implement a Communications Plan should the decision be made to cancel or change a performance, or if there is a crisis or emergency situation at a performance. Authority to place the Plan into effect is delegated and limited to any of the following:

Chair of the Board – Richard Burrows

General Manager – Jayla Damaris

Artistic Director – Gregory Oh

It is not our policy to cancel an event. Should a cancellation be necessary, and then only the persons listed above shall make the decision.

Upon implementation of the Plan, communication shall flow as follows:

·       The General Manager & Artistic Director will notify other Committee/Board Members

·       The General Manager & Artistic Director will notify appropriate volunteers

·       If appropriate, the Chair or designate shall contact:

o   Police

o   Fire Department

o   And any other governmental or support agencies affected

·       If appropriate, the Chair shall contact the following:

o   Radio stations

o   Television stations

o   Newspapers and print media

·       The only Authorized Representatives of Open Ears who will speak as part of the Emergency Plan is:

o   General Manager

o   Artistic Director

·       The only Authorized Representatives of Open Ears who will speak as part of the Emergency Plan is:

o   General Manager

o   Artistic Director

All media requests will be passed on directly to the Open Ears General Manager.


Responsibilities at Performances & Installations

Open Ears wants every staff, volunteer and participant to have a fun and positive experience and safety is a key element. In order to promote safety at our performances, it is recommended that volunteers consider the following:

·       Check your area upon arrival for unnecessary debris, hazards, boxes or containers that are not clearly labeled.

·       Wear your name badge or other proper identification

·       Notify the Volunteer in Charge of suspicious packages, people or activities.

·       Never try to handle a security related action on your own. Report the incident and let the Volunteer in Charge take the appropriate action.

·       Use common sense and good judgement!


Should a Situation Occur

Even with the best of plans, the occasional accident, incident or situation may occur. How the volunteers, and participants handle an incident is vitally important to all involved. The following “do’s and don’ts” should help to enable those at the scene to handle a situation in the best and most effective way:


·       Stay calm.

·       Immediately notify the Volunteer Co-ordinator

·       Enlist the help of other volunteers to assist you

·       Keep the area clear of spectators in order to allow authorities or emergency equipment to enter the area

·       If there is any likelihood of injuries notify appropriate medical services

·       Refer media to the Open Ears Chair, only if and when you are approached by media

·       Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any injured parties and all witnesses; utilize other volunteers and staff to ensure no one gets missed

·       Complete an “Incident Report” as soon as possible and return to the Volunteer Co-ordinator


·       Speculate on cause, fault or outcome to anyone, including media

·       Attempt to handle situation by yourself, notify the Volunteer Co-ordinator immediately.

·       Attempt to move an injured person who is not able to move on his or her own.


Open Ears Code of Conduct

As a volunteer, you will:

·       Agree and adhere to the Volunteer Policies out lined in this document.

·       Represent the organization positively to its stakeholders and the community.

·       Treat other volunteers, staff and clients with respect.

·       Support a safe harassment-free work environment.

·       Decline all offers of remunerations, salary, wages or any other payment for volunteer service.

·       Use organization property and facilities as authorized.

·       Never divulge or misuse confidential information.


Open Ears will:

·       Clearly outline volunteer responsibilities and expectations clearly.

·       Provide appropriate orientation and training.

·       Treat you with respect, courtesy, and fairness.

·       Respect your right to privacy and confidentiality.

·       Provide a supportive and positive environment that ensures you enjoy your volunteering.

·       Provide an avenue where volunteers can voice questions or concerns.

·       Encourage and recognize volunteer efforts and achievements.

·       Provide information on organizational changes or new policy decisions relevant to volunteers.


Attendance and Time

Volunteer hours are scheduled in agreement with supervising staff and the volunteer.


Supervision & Reporting

·       Often, volunteers work independently will little to no supervision

·       Open Ears volunteers will report to the Volunteer Coordinator, in the Coordinator’s absence, they will report to Open Ears Staff

·       If a volunteer has any concerns or needs to report a conflict, they are to report it to supervising staff


Harassment & Discrimination

Open Ears is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.

Every volunteer and staff member has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.

Workplace harassment will not be tolerated from any person in the workplace. Everyone in the workplace must be dedicated to preventing workplace harassment. Staff, directors, and volunteers are expected to uphold this policy, and will be held accountable by the organization.

Workplace harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace - a comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Harassment may also relate to a form of discrimination as set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code, but it does not have to.

Volunteers are encouraged to report any incidents of workplace harassment. There are no negative consequences for reports made in good faith.

Open Ears staff will investigate and deal with all concerns, complaints, or incidents of workplace harassment in a fair and timely manner while respecting workers’ privacy as much as possible. If a volunteer feels that they have been subject to discriminatory behaviour or action, they should bring it to the immediate attention of a staff member or the volunteer co-ordinator.

Open Ears staff will address these incidents so that a resolution of the conflict may be resolved.

Open Ears staff will not tolerate harassment and discrimination. If the volunteer is found to be harassing any staff, or member of the public, they will be dismissed.


Discipline & Dismissal

Inappropriate behaviour can negatively influence Open Ears’:

·       Reputation in the community

·       Ability to secure funding

·       Artist/client/customer relations

·       Volunteer program morale

·       Employee morale

Disciplinary action is taken to ensure that volunteers comply with:

·       Supervisory expectations

·       Job standards

·       Organizational policies, procedures and work rules

·       Safety rules

Disciplinary action occurs after unwanted behaviour is exhibited.  A volunteer may be dismissed if found to be working outside these frames of expectation, of when putting themselves, Open Ears, or other volunteers in harms’ way. Open Ears has a zero- tolerance policy on unsafe behaviour on installation sites and performance venues.



Open Ears collects the private information of volunteers when they register to match volunteers with volunteer opportunities and to provide volunteers with information about training and events. We will only collect, use, and disclose a volunteer’s personal information with the volunteer’s knowledge and consent. We will not collect personal information beyond what is necessary for the purposes above or as identified at the time of collection.

If, at the time of registering to volunteer with Open Ears you indicated that you are interested in volunteering with Inter Arts Matrix and/or NUMUS Concerts, your registration information has been shared. Inter Arts Matrix, NUMUS, and Open Ears have identical privacy policies as it pertains to volunteers.


The Incident Report - Instructions

An important piece of information following an incident is the Incident Report. The report is needed for record-keeping, possible insurance reporting, and will be the primary documentation Open Ears has of the incident and must be filled out ASAP. Situations can present themselves in a variety of ways.

The following are examples of the types of situations that warrant a report:

·       Minor and major injuries

·       Disturbances or crowd problems

·       Any situation involving security or emergency personnel

·       Property damage

·       Altercations

·       Any incident involving arrest or police action

·       Threats of physical force or violence

·       If there is any likelihood of injuries notify appropriate medical services

The report, a sample of which is included, should be filled out completely, accurately, and at the time of the incident or immediately thereafter. Full size copies of the Incident Report are available at the Box Office.

·       Get names, addresses and telephone numbers of all parties, including any witnesses. Verify spelling of names.

·       Give factual descriptions of what occurred and the injury or damage done, but DO NOT offer opinions on whom, if anyone, may have been at fault.

·       All items on the report must be completed. If information is unknown, state that on the form.

·       State the connection of the involved individual(s) to the performance (artist, audience, volunteer, etc.)

·       e connection of the involved individual(s) to the performance (artist, audience, volunteer, etc.)

·       Return completed form immediately to the Volunteer Co-ordinator or General Manager.

The information contained in this guidebook is subject to change.