40 Years Backstage at Wexford Festival Opera
Volunteers are used to being behind the scenes, but the recipient of the 2012 Wexford Festival Opera / Zurich Volunteer of the Year Award has literally been behind the scenes for over 40 years.
Backstage volunteer Viv Crofton was named the recipient of the 2012 Wexford Festival Opera / Zurich Volunteer of the Year Award during a special on-stage presentation preceding the public dress rehearsal for the Zurich sponsored L’Arlesiana in front of an audience of 771 people – most of whom were also Festival volunteers.
For more than forty years Vivian Crofton has been a volunteer with WFO working quietly in the background. His involvement began under the tutelage of the late Nicky Cleary, Wexford Opera’s first stage-manager. His many years of experience backstage has presented him with many challenges and brilliant stories. Viv has seen many changes in the festival and was on-hand during the transition from the Old Theatre Royal to the new state of the art Wexford Opera House. One of the duties that Viv attended to in the old Theatre Royal was to check the seats for damage or wear and tear, a duty he no longer misses in the new venue.
Viv reluctantly made his first official stage appearance to receive the award in front of an audience 771 of his peers. Always a humble and quiet man, Viv surprised the audience when he asked if he could say a few words about the award, saying, “I am accepting this award for the 3 reasons. 1. For Nicky Cleary (WFO 1st stage manager who sadly passed away in 2011) who taught be everything and was a gentleman. 2. The Chairman Peter Scallan told me that accepting the award would be for the good of the festival and that I would enjoy it and 3. Because you were nice enough to give it to me.” Ironically it was the current Chairman’s father, Sean Scallan who first got Viv involved all those years ago, telling Viv, “You should work backstage. It would be for the good of the festival and you will like it.”
Peter Scallan, Chairman, Wexford Festival Opera, a long-time volunteer himself, said, “Volunteers play a very important role in the life of festivals across the country with many returning again year on year. Wexford Festival was founded by volunteers and their continued support and commitment have been key to its success. Now over 300 volunteers contribute their time annually to this world renowned event.”
The Wexford Festival Opera / Zurich Volunteers Award for Outstanding Leadership and Development serves to recognise the significant contribution and leadership of Wexford Opera Volunteers, and is awarded annually to a WFO Volunteer who has served to enhance the development, patron service and longevity of Wexford Festival Opera.
The award which started in 2011 is sponsored by Zurich, which is also production sponsor of L’Arlesiana by Cilèa. With about 160 employees now based in Wexford, Zurich has shown an increasing commitment to the area by supporting the Wexford Festival Opera for the past three years and by recognising the achievements of the 300 local volunteers through the sponsorship of the Wexford Festival Opera / Zurich Volunteers Award for Outstanding Leadership and Development.