Martin Bright

Where does volunteering stop and exploitation begin?

There’s always something satisfying about appearing in a new publication and I made my debut in the Stage, the publication of the theatre industry this week.

I was horrified to see that Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic had been advertising for unpaid interns. Oddly, this is something that liberal Britain seems happy with. (Sometimes the right understands better that you need to pay people for an honest day’s work — I was delighted to see that centre-right think tank Policy Exchange was advertising for a paid intern this week).

The Old Vic’s John Richardson responds here. The Old Vic has even made a video celebrating the way they use unpaid labour (see above).

We have a problem here. Where does volunteering stop and exploitation begin? The Old Vic genuinely thinks it is doing good by offering these opportunities.

Let’s make it clear, the Old Vic should not be advertising for three-month long unpaid internships. This is quite possibly illegal and certainly unfair because so few people are in a position to take up such a post.

At the same time, the government needs to be very clear that the Big Society is more than just a vast slave labour scheme.

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