Intern Culture is our work around unpaid internships in the arts - a literature review and follow-up debate in October 2012.
In May 2012, Artquest published Intern Culture, a literature review of 23 reports, guidelines and policy documents since 2008. The review brings together the research and guidance from 23 reports on internships in the visual arts since 2008. These sometimes conflicting and contradictory guides have served to inform - and confuse - organisations looking to hire interns, as well as interns themselves, leaving low-paid workers vulnerable to exploitation and unaware of their rights, and organisations in danger of breaking national minimum wage legislation.
It aims to provide interns with information on their rights, and organisations seeking interns an understanding of the legal context within which they operate. It also seeks to open a debate on the moral implications of endorsing and encouraging free labour in the visual arts, often supplied by those who can least afford it. It is our view that much-vaunted and well-funded programmes to encourage diversity in the arts can’t succeed without a sea-change in how the arts operate, are valued, and might be accessed by everyone, regardless of their social or cultural background.
The reports in this literature review have been written by Government, public funders, think tanks, industry bodies and artist-led groups.
The report includes:
- The historical context of internships - coming from the legal and medical professions, where a period of free labour is balanced by high future incomes
- Best practice guidelines collated from a variety of sources
- An exploration of the critical differences between social mobility and social justice
- The business and legal cases for paying interns
- Potential enforcement remedies for interns who have been exploited
- The spread and take-up of paid and unpaid internships
Intern Culture is researched and written by Dr. Sophie Hope, Lecturer, Department of Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, University of London and Joanna Figiel, PhD candidate at Centre for Cultural and Policy Management, City University London.