Info You Can Use: Internship Guide For Arts Organisations

The subject of paying interns has been in the news fairly frequently. This summer I noted that while non-profits are currently exempt from some of the rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act, this may not be true for long. Classifying employees as interns or independent contractors may not be valid, even for non-profits depending on their work situations.

In the England, arts organisations (yes, I am intentionally using British spelling) have a legal responsibility to pay interns according to minimum wage standards. The Arts Council of England just published a guide to these rules. While these wage laws don’t apply the entities in the U.S., the criteria for what constitutes an intern are very close to those applicable to for profits in the U.S.

The guide also provides suggestions for designing a meaningful internship experience and for writing appropriate ads for these positions. Therefore the guide can be a good resource for those looking to get ahead of possible changes in the labor laws and seeking to provide a positive working environment.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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