CUNY and cultural institutions give students useful internships

CUNY, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation have recently partnered to fund a $1 million initiative to give CUNY students paid internship opportunities at cultural institutions across the city.

Named the CUNY Cultural Corps, the initiative promises to give students a chance to work at art museums, concert halls and other cultural venues, including the New York Botanical Garden, Carnegie Hall, American Museum of Natural History and Staten Island Museum.

Cultural Corps formed after a 2016 survey of DCLA grantee organizations found that the amount of demographic diversity within the city’s cultural sector was low when compared to the demographics present in the city at large. In an effort to rectify this discrepancy, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have dedicated $4 million to diversifying the cultural sector of the city.

During the first year of the program, 85 students from 13 CUNY colleges across the five boroughs will be interning at 32 different cultural institutions across the city. Cultural Corps offers a variety of internship opportunities for students. Students can work up to 12 hours a week and receive $12 per hour.

New York City reigns as one of the most diverse cities in the nation, so it is important for cultural centers across the city to reflect the population that they serve. Serving a greater variety of students would increase diversity levels and create a more inclusive society.

Cultural Corps allows the city’s youth to not only enjoy some of the most famous cultural institutions in the world, but to actively participate in them, bringing in new ideas and fresh perspectives. In a city filled with millions of people, adding diversity to cultural touchstones opens new avenues for all inhabitants to feel accepted.

Giving CUNY students these internship opportunities will reap dividends for the city’s cultural centers as the program continues. Liberal arts students who may have previously found it difficult to acquire highly coveted internships will now have an easier path, making lofty dreams attainable.

Whether it be art, music, history or something entirely different, Cultural Corps will enrich budding culture-makers at CUNY, creating the means to further students’ pursuits and affect these cultural institutions from the inside. Amplifying the voices of students who may not have  been able to participate in these spaces, Cultural Corps heralds the dawn of a new era for New York’s cultural scene. Students will be able to develop new interests and possibly step into the professional world that offers prospective jobs in their fields.