At her 1985 retirement, after 20 years as founding director of the Arts & Business Council (ABC), Sybil Simon chose as her legacy a program which helped diversify the nonprofit arts sector. This program took the form of The Multicultural Arts Management Internship Program. It became an overwhelming annual success, attracting hundreds of applicants from across the United States, thanks to ABC’s partnership with Con Edison.
This summer, 11 interns were selected to work in areas such as fundraising, marketing, programming, audience development, and finance for ten weeks. Based upon their personal interests, the interns are paired with theater and dance companies, arts service organizations, music festivals, museums, etc. Organizations chosen to participate entrust the Arts & Business Council of New York (ABC/NY) to interview all intern candidates and conduct the placement.
Supervisors at the arts organizations provide support in terms of creating an interns project (examples: assigning them to spearhead a marketing initiative for a festival or research prospective donors for a new capital campaign) and providing professional guidance for the eager students. Con Edison’s generous support lavishes interns with a $2,500 stipend (a rarity in the arts sector!).
The internship is not only unique because it promotes cultural diversity while empowering interns to take a significant role in their organizations, but also because business mentors are granted to the interns. Con Edison doesn’t just bestow financial support to our organization—they are personally involved by assigning staff as mentors. The mentors collectively represent alternative involvement in the arts, should the interns choose to work in business—they are patrons, donors, and board members—all excellent examples of our sector’s desired audience.
The business mentors attend events, take interns to coffee, visit their organizations, invite interns to their office, and attend site visits (where students lead a tour of their organization and present the results of their summer project). Con Edison also hosts the entire program for an opening breakfast and closing dinner ceremony, where the host supervisors, business mentors, interns, and Arts & Business Council staff come together to celebrate the program and reflect upon the summer.
Here's a video of some of the interns and mentors in action: