Taking on a paid intern to help with fundraising

 17 December 2014

Disability-led arts organisation Shape works to improve access to the arts. They used the Creative Employment Programme to take on a paid intern in their Fundraising and Development Department. The intern has since secured a full-time role in the team.

"They have allowed me to grow within this role to ensure I acquire as much tangible experience as possible.”

Shape was founded in 1976 and has become a leading disability arts charity whose mission is to help build a more inclusive cultural sector.

They aim to achieve this by developing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people and running participatory arts and development programmes.

Having been affected by funding cuts, we needed further resource to support our fundraising efforts.

Rob Parton, Head of Fundraising and Development at Shape, decided to apply to the Creative Employment Programme (CEP) to gain some extra capacity in his team. He also wanted to reach out to the pool of young people who are unemployed.

He explains: “Having been affected by significant funding cuts over the last few years, we needed further resource to support our fundraising efforts.

"We also recognised that the employment landscape for young people is particularly difficult at the moment. We felt that a mutually beneficial internship part-funded through the Creative Employment Programme would help to address this.”

Covering internship costs

Shape was able to cover the remainder of the cost of the internship through its existing resources knowing that, if the role was a success, the intern would cover their own costs through bringing in additional funding for the organisation’s work.

Rob completed the application for CEP online, and recalls “the online application was pretty straight forward and easy to use, and we found out five weeks later that our application was successful and we could begin the recruitment process.”

“A learning point was realising the amount of talented people out there that are seeking to further their careers in the arts, which was evident in the number and quality of applications that we received.”

Taking on a new intern

Shape recruited Jack Johnson at the beginning of December 2013 on a six month contract to support a range of fundraising areas including trusts, individual giving and a fundraising art auction. Rob feels that Jack’s work made a real difference to Shape’s fundraising:

“While providing a good development opportunity for Jack, Shape was able to invest time in building new funding relationships and exploring new areas of fundraising.

A learning point was realising the amount of talented people out there that are seeking to further their careers in the arts

"This resulted in two grants from small trusts new to the organisation. Among other areas, Jack also played an important role in our art auction, securing work from artists to help raise £23,000 for our work (which was also matched by the Arts Council’s Catalyst Arts).”

The internship proved such a success for Shape that when Jack’s six months finished, they employed him as a full-time staff member. Rob was really pleased to be able to use the CEP in this way:

“Jack contributed a wide variety of skills and showed a real interest in learning to help further his own experience. We’re really pleased to have employed him as a member of staff. The internship acted as a great way to recruit, train and develop a new member of staff at Shape.”

Fulfilling young potential

As a recent graduate looking to break into the cultural sector Jack found the experience to be incredibly valuable.

“This internship allowed me to overcome a serious problem faced by numerous graduates who wish to work in the arts or third sector: the high percentage of 'entry level' paid jobs that require a good deal of vocational experience, which is hard to obtain without undertaking unpaid 'internships' for a substantial length of time.

I have been able to work on a diverse range of stimulating and interesting projects and gained vital administrative skills. 

“Shape were enthusiastic for me to get the most out of the internship. What I have most enjoyed is how responsive and open they were over that first six months. They have allowed me to grow within and mould this role to ensure I acquire as much tangible experience as possible.

“I have been able to work on a diverse range of stimulating and interesting projects, as well as undertaking tasks that have allowed me to gain vital administrative skills. Consequently, I have felt enabled to fulfil my potential and I am incredibly pleased to have joined the team as a full time member of staff.”

Details of grant awarded

  • Funding award: £2,500
  • Size of company: 19 members of staff
  • Location: London
  • Art Form: Visual arts

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