Arts Council England have announced the launch of a £15 million fund that it hopes will encourage art and culture organisations in the UK to pay their interns, many of whom are current students or recent graduates.
The topic of students facing exploitation at the hands of large companies has been much discussed in recent months, with the coalition government’s work experience scheme being labelled as ‘slave labour’ earlier this year.
The new programme from Arts Council England (ACE), launched this week, has been titled the Creative Employment Programme and will look to subsidise up to 6,500 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and internships across the culture industry for unemployed people aged between 16 and 24.
ACE issued guidelines for their sector last year, outlining legal obligations that arts and cultural organisations should follow when offering internships, which included paying interns the national minimum wage – but this hasn’t always been the case.
While the new initiative from ACE sounds like a positive step forward Andrea Stark, the council’s executive director, has said that it’s unlikely to stamp out the problems of unpaid internships altogether.
“This alone probably won’t change everything, but I very much hope that those organisations that either receive funds from us or want to work with the arts council, will understand what we’re about and what we think is the right and fair and proper thing to do.”