VANOC still looking for volunteer performers 

Another 4,300 people needed for opening and closing ceremonies

If you didn't get tickets to the opening or closing ceremonies of the 2010 Games there is still a chance for you to see them - as a volunteer.

Earlier this month, Olympic organizers announced how the public can get involved as volunteer performers.

Since the Olympics are the gold standard in branding one would think organizers wouldn't have any trouble signing up volunteers.

"These are the two events that everybody and his dog were trying to get tickets to and couldn't so how else do you get in the door? Easy, become a volunteer," said SFU marketing and branding expert Lindsay Meredith.

About 7,500 volunteers will be needed for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics, which several billion people are expected to watch.

However, three weeks after announcing the call for volunteers VANOC had received about 3,200 applications and was still seeking another 4,300 people.

Torino, the host of the Winter Games in 2006, used 6,100 volunteers and 240 professionals. 

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony will take place in Vancouver's 55,000-seat B.C. Place Stadium on Feb. 12, 2010. The closing ceremony will be on Feb. 28. This will be the first time in Olympic Games history that the opening ceremonies will be staged in the comfort of an indoor venue.

That will likely mean more athletes will come as weather won't be an issue, but it also presents a challenge in how to light the Olympic cauldron in a stadium with a roof.

Meredith predicts that Olympic organizers will go all out on the spectacles and are unlikely to repeat the clichés that were part of 2010 organizers' presentation at the closing of the Torino Games. For Games organizers this is their Olympic event.

"This is a country representation so are we going to just run with a few ice fishing poles pulling up a couple of salmon?" asked Meredith.

"I don't think so. I think you are going to see some serious money spent on this thing."

He argued that it could be seen as money well spent, thanks to the billions of people who will tune in to watch. If done well it will entice many to travel to the area, and some to invest.

"...It may turn out to be one very expensive ad, but one hell of a well placed ad," said Meredith.

The fact that the casting call has gone out so early offers some clues to the ceremonies said Tom Mayenknecht, a Vancouver marketing and communications consultant.

He believes it is likely that children will eventually be involved, along with Canadians from across the country, and that some performing volunteers may play more of a role than just a walk-on part.

"It would be pretty consistent with the positioning (VANOC) has put on this as being Canada's Games," said Mayenknecht who has attended Olympic Ceremonies in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney.

"The fact that there is this cast call a year out from the Games shows that (the volunteers) are going to be a major part of the opening and closing ceremonies.

"What we can already sense is that there will be some kind of theme of inclusivity, some kind of theme of the Games representing human-kind, and representing relationships between people.

"Vancouver 2010 will in some way pay homage to Vancouverites, to British Columbians and to Canadians."

The Ceremonies are being produced by David Atkins Enterprises of Australia, which produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games as well as many other high profile events.

VANOC will release some tickets to the ceremonies and sporting events this year as sponsors finalize their ticket needs and venues are configured.

Anyone over 17 by May 1, 2009 can apply on-line to www.vancouver2010.com/ceremonies .

Auditions will take place over several months starting in May. There will be no open casting calls and applying does not guarantee an audition spot.

Candidates will be notified by this summer if they have been successful in landing a ceremonies role. Rehearsals begin in November and continue through to Games time, including over the December holiday period. Rehearsals will be held twice a week and each volunteer performer will rehearse over 100 hours to prepare for their role.
Applicants may also choose to apply to audition for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Ceremonies, which take place in March 2010.

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