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February 14, 2014

Graduate campaign group criticises Globe Theatre for offering unpaid internship

Intern Aware, a UK-based organisation which lobbies for what it terms ‘fair internships’, has called on the theatre in London’s South Bank to offer a salary for their recently advertised communications intern role.

The job, which is being offered to university graduates on a four-day per week basis for three months, is unpaid.

Benefits include theatre tickets as well as discounts at the theatre’s shop and restaurant.

Interviews are scheduled to take place next week, according to an official job advert.

The theatre claims the successful candidate will gain a “strong understanding of the workings of a Communications department in the Arts” and “impressive experience on [their] CV”.

But in a letter to the theatre’s chief executive Neil Constable, Intern Aware co-director Gus Baker attacked the Globe for offering theatre tickets instead of a wage.

Quoting Shakespearean lines, he said the intern should be paid at least the minimum wage.

He said: “Nothing will come of nothing, asking people to work unpaid unfairly narrows the field of those able to apply for your internship and excludes those who can’t afford to work for free.

“Living in the Capital is expensive, and interns don’t come riding to London with fat purses.

“You may feel that the concessionary tickets you offer and discounts in the Globe Theatre Shop are as good as wages.

“Well, ‘tis not so, my lord high [Mr.] Constable. You have ta’en these tenders for true pay, but young people cannot pay the universal landlord without a wage.”

He continued: “All we ask is that you pay at least the National Minimum Wage. The world affords no law to make thee rich, but it does specify that people must be paid at least £6.33 an hour for their work.”

The letter was posted on graduate careers blog Graduate Fog yesterday.

Blog founder Tanya de Grunwald, who has previously campaigned against unpaid internships at retail giants Harrods and Arcadia and on ITV television show X Factor, said: “We have made huge progress in recent months shaming big business into paying their interns – and now it’s the turn of other employers who have been getting away with similar antics for way too long.

“Why should anyone work at the Globe for free? Unpaid internships exploit those who do them and exclude those who can’t afford to do them.”

Responding to the claims, Liz Fosbury, the Globe’s chief finance and operations officer, said it regularly reviewed its intern policy to ensure it operated within the guidelines of HM Revenue and Customs.

She said the theatre, which is a charity, operated on a not-for-profit basis and any surplus funds were re-invested in creating productions and improving theatre facilities.

She added: “We are enormously grateful for the support of our interns, and many of them in turn have told us that their time at the Globe was tremendously useful and richly rewarding.”