Working Groups

Arts & Labor’s working groups are self-organized, with their own meeting times and space. To get involved in one of these working groups contact them directly at the emails listed below or email

The Intern Labor Rights working group aims to draw attention to and bring an end to the exploitation of unpaid laborers in the arts economy. From our collective experience as interns and professionals working in cultural institutions we know that many unpaid internships do not meet U.S. Department of Labor criteria for exemption from Fair Labor Standards Act requirements, including those mandating the payment of minimum wages. Business owners and shareholders are thus profiting from the uncompensated labor of others, a violation of basic worker rights and a contributor to income and wealth inequality.

Areas of Focus
– Alerting interns to their ethical and legal rights
– Calling for job boards to cease advertising unpaid internships at for-profit institutions
– Pressuring arts & culture institutions to pay all workers for their labor
– Calling for colleges to cease supporting the practice by granting credit for unpaid internships at for-profit institutions
– Assisting unpaid interns who believe they may be legally entitled to backpay
– Shifting the perception of internship rights within the culture at large

Meeting Times
Intern Labor Rights meets every Sunday at 5:30pm. For more information email: Visit our official website, Intern Labor Rights. Join the discussion on Facebook.

Group Activities
– Arts & Labor #OWS Calls for an End to Classified Listings for Unpaid Internships at For-Profit Businesses
– Arts & Labor #OWS Releases Flyer “Interns! Know Your Rights” for Widespread Distribution
– Revises Terms of Service for Postings of Internships in Response to Arts & Labor #OWS Call for and End to Classified Listing
– Intern Happy Hour
– Intern Rights Street Outreach
– Intern Labor Rights Releases 2013 Year End Report

The Alternative Economies working group explores new methods of sustaining the livelihood of artists, art-workers, and other low-income populations. We view the concept of labor through the lenses of time, choice, and value, and we research the ways that ideas like the commons, solidarity economies, precarious worker centers, and participatory budgeting can nurture more sustainable art worlds. Believing that vibrant creative communities come from the bottom up, we encourage relationships based on mutual aid rather than competition, and we advocate for cultural institutions rooted in a framework of social, economic, and environmental justice.

Alternative Economies page w/meeting times, resources, & upcoming events:

Members of Arts & Labor are researching various labor organizing models in the United States and internationally. Additionally, we are collectively researching working conditions for art workers through our participatory Art Worker Survey Project.

Group Activities
– New York Artist Union, the WPA, and the Art Workers Coalition Teach-in
– Working Conditions Seminar with Precarious Workers Brigade (London), UKK (Young Art Workers, Copenhagen) and a representative of the Chilean Ministry of Culture
– Ongoing discussions with representatives from local unions and working centers such as UWA, IWW, Teamster, Writer’s Guild of America East, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and others
– Monthly book club on labor law, organizing, workplace occupations, and radical history
– End Sotheby’s Lockout Solidarity Action at the Whitney Biennial with Occupy Museums, Occupy Sotheby’s and Arts & Culture
– Joining other OWS labor affiliated working groups such as Labor Outreach Committee, Occupy Your Workplace, and 99 Pickets, as part of the Labor Alliance cluster

The Radical Arts working group is an open forum and working group devoted to the playful, poetic and critical capacity of the artmaking process. Our projects use diverse tactics and approaches to exploit the flexibility inherent in art production, perception and interaction. Members are working in areas of performance, public sculpture, social interventions, sound and video, design and choreography. Radical Arts is interested in using art to build solidarity amongst communities by helping to make signs, banners and props for marches, rallies and direct actions.

Meeting Times
The RaRas meet from weekly to monthly.

The Spatial Politics & Anti-Gentrification working group was dedicated to reimagining and redirecting the impact of art workers on urban development and policy. By promoting neighborhood self-determination and providing tactical, logistical, and material support for community-led anti-displacement efforts, the group aimed to reverse art workers’ complicity in processes of gentrification, and to develop relationships of cooperation, trust, and mutual aid between art workers and those with whom art workers share spaces of life and work. The group worked in solidarity with low-income populations and communities of color, and seeked to hold its members accountable through communication and collaboration with local residents and organizers.

Meeting Times
The group currently does not have regular meeting schedule, individuals who are interested in the issue are encouraged to attend Arts & Labor’s weekly meeting.


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