It’s Grim Up North

Opera North is offering a Chorus and Orchestra Internship working within the Music Department of England’s only national opera company based in the North, for up to 11 months.

Working alongside the Chorus and Orchestra Managers, the successful applicant will provide administrative support with the opportunity to take responsibility for set projects.

Candidates must be computer literate and able to carry out varied administrative tasks with a good eye for detail. This is the ideal opportunity for anyone looking to pursue a career within arts administration.

This position is voluntary but lunch and travel expenses will be paid.

One of our readers – who wants to get into arts administration is aghast.

I would like to anonymously highlight this internship at Opera North, which came to my attention because the organisation specifically targeted postgraduate students.

It worries me greatly that such prestigious organisations think it is somehow acceptable to offer this sort of unpaid work to talented postgraduates looking to progress in arts administration. It is one thing to offer part time voluntary opportunities, or low-paid full-time work, but this full-time voluntary position guarantees that only certain types of people will be able to access this position and it completely undermines all the good work done by the national minimum wage. Talented graduates have so much to give, why are some members of staff being paid over £30k when these hard-working ‘volunteers’ will not be paid anything?

Interns Anonymous couldn’t agree more.

This will do nothing to dispel the feeling that Opera is an elitist pursuit. Who but the most privileged could afford to work a full time job without pay for 11 months? Opera North should have a lot of explaining to do.

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1 Response to “It’s Grim Up North”

  1. 1 Anonymous 06/03/2010 at 1:47 pm

    In theory I agree with all the issues you have highlighted relating to Opera North’s Chorus & Orchestra Internship.

    In reality I was the Opera North’s first Chorus & Orchestra intern and am still working for the company two years on having proven my skills and capability through 4 months of unpaid work experience at the beginning and applying for a job in the Company when the opportunity arose.

    Please can I highlight that this internship is for up to 11 months. One of the main attributes of working for this organisation is the support you get to further your personal development and enhance your career. The management don’t expect an impoverished debt ridden graduant to work unpaid for 11 months, they’d be crazy!! You are encouraged to look for jobs and given the support on your application (including references), it is essentially a ‘foot in the door’.

    In comparison with corporate IT firms, accountancy firms, recruitment firms arts organisations have very small personnel therefore increasing the competition for jobs within this area and there isn’t the budget to support graduate schemes such as those found at IBM and KPMG. Just have a look at the news to understand most of the major Arts organisations will be undergoing a cut to their budgets sometime in the near future!

    Times are hard, yes, but if you prove your worth and really want to work in the Arts then I’m afraid these internships are the stepping stones you need to take!

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