This comes at a time when universities and colleges are producing ever-larger numbers of arts graduates, often from courses that often fail to equip them with the skills to find work, particularly in a recession-hit market. The colleges are happy to take the fees, but they wash their hands of the consequences. I think we should be asking why, according to the report, 40% of graduates entering the cultural sector do so through working unpaid – not least because it has massive implications in terms of access. It immediately discounts all those who can't afford to work unpaid, and particularly disadvantages those whose family home doesn't happen to be near London, where many of these unpaid opportunities are. [ital mine]Gardner makes an excellent point, one supplements our past discussion: that the "tradition" of paid internships not only privileges people who have the benefit of private wealth, a doting family, or a partner who is supporting them, but it also privileges people whose families live close to where the theatre is. If you grow up in a rural area far from a professional theatre offering an internship, for example, you must figure out how to pay the rent, whereas someone whose family lives in the city can move back home into their old bedroom and save rent money (not to mention the cost of things like food). This has a major impact on your ability to accept the internship.
Of course, if you do an internship your chances increase of getting hired permanently by an institution after they have worked with you for a while. I think we all recognize that. Getting a foot in the door can help your chances for future employment. But internships privilege certain feet over others. The question, as Gardner says, is one of access, and it provides more evidence that the theatre playing field is not level, not a meritocracy.