Old Vic to exploit vulnerable young workers in dubious internships


Normally AMW blog does not involve itself in the issue of unpaid internships.  But the Old Vic has been on the radar recently, as currently one of the biggest employers of unpaid actors in the country. The Old Vic has not responded to Actors Minimum wage enquiries about unpaid actors, even though the Old Vic clearly in currently in receipt of Arts Council funding!

Now the Old Vic is advertising for candidates for ongoing 3 month internships, the majority of which are likely to be taken up by young people. These internships contribute towards the expenses of these vulnerable workers, but do not provide even the minimum wage. Have a look at a screenshot of the Old Vic’s own advertisment: Click here to view full size

The Charities commission reports the Old Vic Trust 2000 spending at £8,625,739 for the last year of accounts recieved.  So why aren’t these positions paid?

There is a strong argument that the people participating on these internships are in fact the beneficiaries of the Old Vic as a charity.  Why are the Old Vic’s trustees allowing the beneficiaries of the Charitiy to be exploited as unpaid workers? Even if in some perverse way this is legal, how can this be right?

How come these internships do not comply with Skillset’s Guidelines for Employers offering Work Placement Schemes in the Creative Industries?

The Old Vic has been contacted and queried about this issue, most recently on their Facebook page.  Here is the screenshot.
Click here to view full size

The Old Vic has not replied, except to take a threating legal posture.

Please visit the Old Vic website or their facebook page and contribute to the discussion!

Old Vic Website

Old Vic on Facebook

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4 Responses to Old Vic to exploit vulnerable young workers in dubious internships

  1. The Old Vic says:

    The Old Vic is proud of its longstanding commitment to developing people’s passion for and interest in the arts. We provide opportunities via our internship programmes, both at the Theatre and at The Old Vic Tunnels, for volunteers from all walks of life to participate in theatrical life. Our Platform project at The Old Vic Tunnels is also open to all to volunteers. Neither of these opportunities contravenes s44 of the National Minimum Wage Act.

    We believe that both our programmes provide enormous public benefit. They allow us to provide free theatrical experience to the participants as well as providing the public at large, a section of whom may not have the means to attend theatres, with an opportunity to see performances without charge. The Old Vic Board of Trustees sees these as very tangible public benefits and they are supportive of the service we provide.

    • Hi Vicky,

      You were a bit economical with the truth last time you wrote to Ole Annie! You were disengenuious, even dishonest, saying ‘The Old Vic is a registered charity, not in receipt of annual or even regular ACE funding.’ You have recieved £350,000 in funding from ACE in the last 12 months! You lying old polecat!

      Naughty Naughty Old Vic, not to be trusted!

      The ‘voluntary worker’ exemption for charities is inteneded to work alongside the Charities Commission’s regulations.

      Now will you please answer a direct question: Can you explain how exploiting the intended beneficiaries of your charity is in the public benefit*?

      How informed are your trustees about these activities?

      Then tell me how your activities reconcile with the Arts Councils requirements for paying artists.

      Now stop being slippery and admit that, even if you are not crossing the line, you are into a serious grey area.

      Old Annie

      *I am using the ‘public benefit’ as a term of art employed by the Charities Commission.

  2. Bill Shakers says:

    We provide opportunities via our internship programmes….. for volunteers from all walks of life to participate in

    How’s that then? Your 30 internships are all unpaid, the only walks of life that can afford unpaid work are the so called ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’ privileged, walks of life.

    Interesting what you say about the Arts Council England funding, Ole Annie.

    Pay your staff Old Vicky, or else ask Kevin Spacey why he too isn’t classing himself a ‘volunteer’ and paying himself nowt.
    One rule for one, another for the masses..and they call it charity. ;-(

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Actorsminimumwage

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