Student volunteers keep WOW Hall thriving

It is 4:30 in the afternoon, and Christopher Graziani@@[email protected]@ makes his way up the concrete steps of WOW Hall to prepare for the coming evening. The Hall is mostly empty, and several volunteers and staff members walk around, making preparations for the nearly 600 fans that will arrive in a few short hours.

Graziani, a junior journalism major at the University, is a lighting intern for WOW Hall and is responsible for setting up, taking down and providing the lighting effects during shows.

“I really like it because I get to be creative,” he says. “You get to meet all the artists. I’m a fan also, so I try to grab a poster and get an autograph or something.

“This isn’t a paid thing for me — I just do it because I really enjoy it,” he added.

Graziani has been volunteering at WOW Hall, a registered nonprofit group, for the past year and is one of nearly 200 students who gives their time to support the local Eugene music hall. Kayte McDonald, the volunteer coordinator for WOW Hall,@@[email protected]@ said that students have always made up a sizable portion of their volunteer force.

“Always, a decent amount of our volunteers are students,” she said. “They are a really important part of our organization. We wouldn’t be able to operate the way we do without volunteers.”

Students work in many capacities for the Hall, including doing promotions for its “Street Team,” writing show reviews and issuing a monthly newsletter that runs in The Oregonian — all in addition to actually volunteering during concerts.

The latter of these options appealed the most to Graziani, who is working to pursue a career in either concert promotion or artist management.

“Lighting has been a way for me to get involved. It’s a lot of fun. I get to listen to music and also have fun with the lights,” he says.

Although Graziani has only been a full-time lighting intern since earlier this term, he feels WOW Hall has provided him with the skill set and opportunity to be able to work at shows right away. While he was a volunteer last year, he watched and observed the lighting manager and learned the technical aspects of properly lighting a show.

When the lighting manager left WOW Hall to pursue a different career path, Graziani saw his chance. He approached the leadership group of WOW and convinced them to let him become a permanent lighting intern.

As an intern, he handles the lighting duties for one show a week and also does four hours of office work as well. His office responsibilities range from filing papers to answering phones and other clerical duties. While he sees the office work as a way to help the Hall aside from working shows, his passion is unwavering: the lighting and the way it impacts a show.

“You just get lost in it. Outside work doesn’t exist, and you’re just having a great time,” Graziani says — a great time, even when the volunteering lasts until 12:30 a.m., when all the fans have left, and he is staying behind to pick up empty water bottles and other miscellaneous trash strewn across the floor. This night alone, he has spent nearly eight hours at the Hall on top of his full class schedule, homework and social life.

Ultimately, he says, the work is all worth it, and he encourages anyone interested to attend one of the hour-long volunteer orientations held each month at WOW Hall.

“It’s all about bringing people to music,” he says. “It gives individuals the chance to get involved with music and at the same time gives fans a chance to see their favorite artists on a mutual level.”

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