The CarrotWorkers Counter Guide to Free Labour in the Arts is out!! Download the PDF here: cw_web

Background: The Carrotworkers’ Collective began work on a Counter Internship Guide in London in February 2009. Below was the initial call for participation in the guide.

Internships, Free Labour, Precarity:
Let’s Tell it Like it Is… 2009, LARC

An evening of discussion and brainstorming open to anyone who has worked for free in London’s cultural and creative sectors working towards the production of an alternative internship guide:

The Carrot Workers Collective is an open group based in London that is concerned with the issue of free labour in the cultural and creative sectors . Many of us work or study in this field, and are very concerned by the growing phenomenon of unpaid or under-paid labour that is happening under the headings of internship schemes, volunteering, job placements and trainee positions.

Most recently, this issue has been at the centre of the UK political agenda:

  • The government has just disclosed (Jan 2009) its plan for a National Internship Scheme that supposedly should help address the issue of unemployment after graduation –  which is going to hit recent graduates at nearly double the rate of the rest of the population (of the 137,000 recently unemployed, 55,000 were in the 18-24 age group –  Times online).
  • A much debated report on the working conditions of art graduates – The Art of Innovation: How Fine Arts Graduates Contribute to Innovation – available online, has disclosed (once more…!) that juggling multiple jobs, mixed with periods of unemployment and an overall below-poverty-line income is more and more the norm for the so-called “creative class”.

We are concerned about this situation because rather than providing opportunities for young people, unpaid and often long term work experience is precisely one of the mechanisms for the erosion of decent working conditions (and therefore a decent life) for everyone.

So, aided by a recent invitiation to be a part of an exhibition in London and to work with some like-minded cultural workers in Milan we thought it might be a good time to produce a Counter-Internship Guide for the cultural and creative sector. This will be a collaboratively authored and open production: the guide will be made by interns, students and cultural workers from the UK, but also in collaboration with groups from other European countries, through a series of workshops and events.

We would like you to invite you to be a part of this process. Everything is still to be shaped, designed and decided! Together we will need to gather stories, refine witty survival strategies for getting through the coffee-pouring regime, make interviews, read against the grain of official research data, come up with designs and ideas for creating a stir around these questions…the Counter Internship Guide is only a starting point!

We hope that you will join us for some brainstorming and food! Do bring friends, co-workers and questions, as the meetings are open. At these meetings we can discuss levels of commitment to the process, which are totally flexible too.


  1. Del G May 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    I wish something like this was around when I went on an internship. I had a horrible experience that took me a while to recover from and build my confidence back up.


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