Serpentine gallery stormed over unpaid internships

The Serpentine gallery called on to pay minimum wage for its advertised voluntary position by protesters from the group, Future Interns.

January 3, 2014
by Nicholas Judge

Image: Sara Gharsalli

The Serpentine gallery has been stormed by demonstrators in Father Christmas outfits to protest against its advertisement for unpaid labour.

Students and graduates from the group, Future Interns carried a banner last weekend that read “all we want for xmas is pay”, and distributed copies of the advert by the Serpentine for a “Research Assistant”, but with additional comments attached.

Alongside the original advertisement, asking for a “full-time commitment of 5 days a week from 10am- 6pm”, the Future Interns protesters included a handwritten note, which included the statement: “If you contribute to the running of an organisation, you are entitled to national minimum wage.”

One of the members of Future Interns and art student at Goldsmiths University, Wood Morris said: “The theme worked well because people were more likely to accept the scrolls because we said Merry Christmas to them. We weren’t noisy and causing trouble.”

Morris remarked: “I feel that no one should ever be expected to work for free. There are certain times when voluntary work is acceptable, but the thing about this job was we felt it specified set hours and tasks.”

After the protest the gallery said: “The points you make are valid and we have listened to your protest. We take our responsibility as employers very seriously, and this advertisement is not in line with our current terms on volunteer placements.”