Over the years of attending shows at various theaters around Austin, I’ve become intrigued with the idea of being a volunteer usher. Tickets to some of these shows can be pricey, so surely as a volunteer usher, you get to see the shows for free, right?
Alas, getting to see free shows – even those you usher for – isn’t guaranteed. As you might imagine, those coveted shifts fill up pretty quickly and sometimes a show sells out and there’s no space in the house. (Though wouldn’t it be amazing to usher for one of the 24 Austin performances of Hamilton at Bass Concert Hall in May and June?) But for the chance to see a show and to just be part of someone’s theater experience, signing up to be an usher can be a very fulfilling experience.
Which is why these spots fill up very quickly. (If you wanted to be a volunteer usher at ZACH Theater, for example, there’s currently a 1-2 year wait.) Most of the people I talked to who have volunteered before say it was totally worth it. A commenter on our Facebook post said, “I did it years ago, and I’d do it again. They tell you what to do and how to locate seats, and the area you’re assigned will be quite manageable. There’s usually an air of excitement and anticipation, which is fun. It feels like you’re being a host or hostess, and helping people, and they you get to see the show.”
Here are some of the duties you can expect to fulfill as a volunteer usher:
Hand out programs
Show guests to their seats
Keep theater neat
Arrive up to two hours before a show and stay late after
Requirements for being a volunteer usher in Austin vary, but generally you can expect the following:
- Usually have to be 18 or older but can be 16 or older in some cases
- Usually require training and a background check
- Require that you are able to serve in any role as usher
- Be willing to stand on your feet for hours
- Be able to ascend and descend stairs
- Abide by a dress code (typically black pants, white shirt)
- Be able to volunteer for a minimum number of shifts
See this list of Austin theaters and venues where you can serve as a volunteer usher:
The Long Center – Austin’s largest venue for performing arts takes 40-50 volunteers each performance in the Dell Hall. The venue is the home of Austin’s largest companies like the symphony, ballet, and opera, as well as hosts big-name shows, speakers, and events. The next volunteering training session takes place on April 23, so register now and find out how you can be an usher.
Texas Performing Arts – Recruiting starts in May. Contact them now to help work events ranging from student performances, to international touring bands and dance groups, to UT Commencement Ceremonies, to Broadway spectaculars, and everything in between.
ZACH Theatre – Austin’s biggest professional producing theater, the 420-seat Topfer theater is a jewel in the crown. Apply now… but there’s a waiting list of 1-2 years.
The Paramount and State Theaters – Arguably the most beautiful theaters in Austin, this cozy gem features traveling shows, Moontower Comedy Festival, films, and more all year ’round.
Austin Symphony – Ushers needed for performances at The Long Center and beyond. More than 200 ushers are needed.
PHOTO: Long Center volunteers