Posted by jamesfrancis, 2012-06-19 17:31 BST
I've been a few times to Berlin and don't remember volunteering as ever being mandatory, although it is expected (at least that is how it was translated to me).
Personally I don't like signing up for slots immediately on arrival, as I like to have a look at the programme, workshops etc first before committing to a time. On the occasions that I have been to Berlin I have never signed up immediately, although I have always managed to fit in at least an hour or so sometime during the festival. I do remember at least once returning to the sign up board late on the first day to find out that all of the slots were full; even the really inconvenient ones; which was great for the festival, but probably let a few people off the hook.
I don't really like the forced approach, and feel it could be quite intimidating, especially if you were new to juggling or if the festivals native tongue was not your own. Having a 'badge of shame' until you volunteer also doesn't quite sit right with me, but may achieve the goal of getting the required number of volunteers.
At a number of B(ritish)JC's / EJC's I do feel that the visibility of where and how to sign up for volunteering is rather obscured, and the expectation that volunteering should be undertaken is not expressed very forcefully on registration. Berlin certainly gets around both of these hurdles and has in my experience has generally succeeded in getting the required help the organisers desire (subtext: no substitute for ruthless German efficiency!)