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The Kennedy Center

Friends of the Kennedy Center Volunteers

About Us

Since the inception of the Friends of the Kennedy Center volunteer program in 1965, and now into the 21st century, volunteers continue to provide invaluable service to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—eleven hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. Friends serve as tour guides, assist in the gift shops, provide information at the Visitors Center, and so much more.

If you love the arts and you want to give back on a regular basis, then joining the Friends is just the ticket for you. Following the call to service at the Kennedy Center reaps many personal rewards, and volunteering for a cause you're passionate about allows you to share the experience with like-minded people

Volunteering is good for your mental health.

Volunteering keeps the Friends both healthy and sound! Among other activities, volunteers participate in Community Yoga the last Saturday of each month as part of the Kennedy Center's Sound Health initiative. This is an ongoing theme as the Center seeks to explore the intersection among music, the brain, and wellness.

And here is just a small sampling of testimonials from current Friends on the "sound health" effects of volunteering:

Thank you, Kennedy Center, for the 'mental health benefit' of giving tours for the past 49 years!

— Geri Lewis, tour guide since 1968

My working in a department replete with millennials is one of my most rewarding experiences. From them, I'm able to keep up with what's going on in stage production, video broadcasting, and technology. They've earned my respect for their maturity, judgment, and most of all their friendship.

— Vivian Lock, multimedia broadcaster

I view my volunteering at the Kennedy Center as an escape from the run-of-the-mill life to an exhilarating atmosphere where the arts prevail. Helping patrons in that atmosphere is a gift to me and I feel better about myself for doing it. Another advantage for me is meeting so many wonderful fellow volunteers whose friendships I cherish.

— Barbara Swecker, Visitors Center

Volunteer Areas

Friends of the Kennedy Center serve in eight primary volunteer areas.

Whether helping with Dance Programming, Special Events, or other departments at the Kennedy Center, Administration volunteers provide administrative help on a weekly basis for the staff in various areas. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Education volunteers assist the Center's Education staff with projects ranging from translating every Kennedy Center Playbill into Braille to supporting the department's numerous programs, including Ballet Class Series Auditions Community Partnerships, School Registration, and WNO Opera Series auditions. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Patron Data volunteers assist the Information Technology staff in maintaining the Kennedy Center's master patron database, ensuring that the data is up-to-date and accurate. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Artist Liaisons assist staff as a liaison for visiting artist on the Millennium Stage as well as sell artist merchandise and assist with administrative duties, when needed. Experience in the hospitality and retail industries is helpful. Shifts are daily from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Multimedia Broadcasters assist staff with the daily Millennium Stage video broadcast. Job requirements include experience with camera operation and video production. Shifts are daily from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Concessions volunteers work with staff to assist in selling show-related merchandise, and interact with patrons before performances and during intermissions in front of the theaters. This volunteer position is the perfect fit for anyone with a desire to work with the public. Shifts and times will vary depending on programming.

Gift Shop volunteers have always worked alongside paid staff, providing extraordinary teamwork and exceptional customer service to the Center's patrons. The Gift Shops volunteers provide excellent customer service, take inventory of merchandise, and operate a cash register. A retail background is preferred but not necessary. Shifts are daily 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Center's volunteer Tour Guides lead thousands of visitors and locals alike through the nation's performing arts center and living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Tours include views of the lounges and the White House box seats, as well as the many gifts of artwork from around the world. Tour guides must be comfortable addressing and guiding groups of all ages and physically navigating key Kennedy Center areas. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 2 p.m. to 6 p. m; weekends 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Learn more about the free guided tours.

Often referred to as the "face of the Kennedy Center," Visitors Center volunteers' vast knowledge spans many topics, from the history of the Center to how to get around the building to booking tours to current and future performance information. Shifts are daily 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Friends volunteers support Washington National Opera in a variety of ways, serving as drivers for the performers, child minders for dress rehearsals, and assistants at opera auditions. A team of volunteers also provides tours of the off-site studio for Kennedy Center Members. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Opera in the Outfield is an annual community outreach event held at Nationals Park.

Costume Studio Assistants serve as custom clothiers and assist the Studio staff with the care, handling, repair of costumes, and measuring and dressing performers among other costume maintenance needs. Basic sewing skills preferred and training is provided. Shifts are weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The WNO Studio is located at 6925 Willow St. NW, Washington, D.C. and is 2 1/2 blocks from the Takoma Metro station.)

Additional Volunteer Areas

Friends also write for the volunteer newsletter, FriendScript, and staff the donor lounges. Volunteers who serve three months on a regular shift may join either of these areas in addition to their regular shift.

FriendScript, the newsletter of the Friends volunteer program and an official publication of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is written and edited by volunteers and is distributed monthly to volunteers and administrative staff to keep everyone up-to-date on volunteer activities.

Lounge volunteers greet Kennedy Center Members and serve refreshments in the three Member lounges before performances and during intermissions.

Benefits

Invitation to the Annual Appreciation Volunteer Gala
Occasional ticket discounts and complimentary ticket offers
A subscription to Friendscript, our quarterly newsletter
30% discount at the KC Café and Roof Terrace Restaurant
25% discount on all purchases in the Kennedy Center Gift Shops
Use of the Kennedy Center employee canteen
$4 parking rate when volunteer or attending a performance at the Kennedy Center

Support the Friends

One way to find out more about the Friends—both the organization and its volunteers—is to buy our book, Curtain Up on the Friends, A History of the Friends of the Kennedy Center Volunteers, offers the reader a rich history about the Friends since our inception in 1965. Curtain Up can be found in the Kennedy Center Gift Shops.

Another special item featured in the Kennedy Center Gift Shops that reflects the spirit of volunteerism at the Kennedy Center is a beautiful collection of notecards produced in honor of the Friends volunteers.

Each card features a stunning photograph of the Kennedy Center, as well as information about the Friends Program. To purchase, visit the Kennedy Center Gift Shops!

example of notecard

cover for Curtain Up on the Friends

Find out how to apply!

FriendScript Find out what the volunteers are up to by reading our newsletter! Click to read the latest issue of FriendScript.

Friends over the years!

The spirit of volunteerism was thriving years before the 1971 opening of the Center, when a small group of dedicated women came together to volunteer in 1965 and worked to raise millions of dollars as a match for the funds donated by Congress. They also solicited embassies for gifts to the Center. This small group evolved into the present-day Friends - women and men, representing multiple generations from around the world, who give their time throughout the year.