Engaging volunteers, staff and visitors in programming: Developing a docent programme for a non-traditional museum setting

Thursday, November 7 - 2:30 to 3:45 pm


Alexis Haradyn, Docent Programme Coordinator; Justin Ingraldi, Manager, Volunteer and Intern Resources; Docent Programme Volunteers, TIFF Bell Lighbox

Download the Engaging volunteers, staff and visitors in programming presentation [ PDF 1.5mb ]

Alexis Haradyn and Justin Ingraldi
Center: Alexis Haradyn and Justin Ingraldi


Session Description

Learn about the successes and challenges of TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Tours and Talks programme and the steps to developing a public docent programme that engages volunteers, staff, and new audiences, and enhances the visitor experience. Presenters will also talk about developing multi-lingual tours and look forward to answering your questions in the Q&A.

As the cultural landscape continues to evolve, museums must adapt to engage communities, foster learning and reach new audiences.  New and innovative programming can help museums stay current in an effort to engage existing visitors while also attracting first-time visitors. In 2010 TIFF made the transition from annual festival to year-round cultural hub. Since then, it has been vital to provide innovative programmes to build, maintain and connect with a diverse year-round audience.  Utilizing one of our key resources, volunteers, we have developed a dynamic Tours and Talks programme to further engage visitors, volunteers and staff. Volunteers lend their passion, knowledge and communication skills to bring our space and our exhibitions to life through free weekly activities.

The session will review the research, development and implementation of the Tours and Talks programme at TIFF Bell Lightbox, focusing on the major successes and challenges of this initiative.  Key Successes: - Diversity and expertise of volunteer team - Volunteer retention and satisfaction - Visitor satisfaction  Main Challenges: - Lack of public awareness - Limited resources and lack of buy-in from key departments Objectives of the Tours and Talks programme: • To lead our current visitors to a deeper experience of our programming  • To engage new audiences • To further engage current staff with the public • To deepen involvement from volunteers  The presentation will identify what we have learned from our experiences and how similar institutions can use our suggestions for their own public and volunteer programmes. A volunteer docent from the programme will speak about their experience as part of the session.

We will also highlight how we are targeting new audiences using the example of Cantonese/Mandarin language tours for our summer series, A Century of Chinese Cinema. One of the many ways we are striving to fulfill our mandate to think global and act local.


Presenter Biographies


Docent Programme Coordinator, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Alexis Haradyn earned her BA in Art History from McMaster University in 2008. She has been involved in the arts sector in Toronto for over 5 years, working and volunteering for several arts organizations. Alexis began as a volunteer Gallery Guide at the Art Gallery of Ontario and has since worked for the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and The Artist Project Toronto. In 2012, Alexis was brought on to develop the newly established Docent Programme at TIFF Bell Lightbox. As Docent Coordinator, she initiated the public Tours and Talks programme, an exciting new venture that offers an enhanced visitor experience for exhibitions and film programming.

Alexis Haradyn


Manager, Volunteer and Intern Resources, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Passionate for film and volunteerism, Justin Ingraldi graduated from Queen's University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Art Honours degree in Film Studies. His career has led him to the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland in 2008 and a long-standing relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), first as a volunteer and then as an intern. Currently in his role as the Manager of the Volunteer and Intern Resources department at TIFF, he was integral in creating and developing the TIFF Bell Lightbox year-round volunteer programme in time for the institution's launch of the facility and expansion since 2010.

Justin Ingraldi