Frequently Asked Questions - Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) Internship Program

We are currently planning for DIAL to be back in-person for summer 2022. We continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 to determine if our delivery would require another virtual year. 

The DIAL internship program strives to strengthen and advance equity in the arts management field and provides college students working towards careers in the arts or business sectors with a hands-on introduction to arts nonprofits in locations across the U.S., including New York City; New Jersey; Nashville, TN; Boston, MA; Sarasota, FL; and Raleigh, NC. Students gain invaluable exposure to dynamic leaders across a variety of arts disciplines and participate in professional activities, trainings, and projects that prepare each one for his or her career, better equipped to enter the workforce as a diverse and creative future leader.

Each summer, Americans for the Arts and local coordinating agencies match undergraduate students with dynamic nonprofit arts organizations and with mentors who can guide their personal and professional growth.

Each intern works part-time (Monday-Thursday) under the supervision of an experienced arts administrator who serves as an arts mentor. Interns also can explore a cross-section of the local arts community through site visits to all the other host organizations and other cultural and professional development activities.

Fridays are reserved for DIALogues, a day specifically curated for continuous learning and growth. These sessions will include site visits, professional developments, reflection sessions, and more.

Interns are also matched with mentors. Through regular meetings and conversations about the internship as well as personal goals and interests, these professionals guide and advise the students throughout the internship, provide insight into the professional world, and demonstrate how individuals with varying careers and backgrounds can support the arts as volunteers.

When Sibyl Simon, the founder of the Arts & Business Council of New York, retired in 1986, a fundraiser was held to celebrate her 31 years of service to the organization and at her request, funding was to go toward supporting a multicultural internship program.

After a slow start, the program was revived in 2000 with the generous support of Con Edison and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Legislature; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; and the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation.

In 2019, Americans for the Arts grew a national expansion of the longstanding program.

The program currently has support for 38 matches across six locations — that’s 38 interns, 38 hosts, and 38 mentors. 5 interns will be hosted in each of the follow locations: New Jersey; Nashville, TN; Sarasota, FL; and Raleigh, NC. New York City will host 12 interns, and Boston will host 6.

AFTA and local partners selects both student and arts organization participants through a competitive application, screening, and selection process. Students are matched with host organizations based on the students’ interests, experience, and skills. AFTA requires that each project be challenging and substantive. Prospective host organizations are required to submit a detailed description of a proposed project that will afford students hands-on exposure to the business of the arts. 

Host organizations represent a diverse cross-section of the local nonprofit arts community. They are selected based upon the scope of their projects and the existence of a positive, supportive environment in which the intern can gain experience in arts management. Individual organizations and projects will vary each year. See a list of past hosts.

The DIAL internship program is designed to diversify the field of arts management and thus seeks candidates from traditionally under-represented backgrounds in the field. In its review of candidates, AFTA will give preference to these applicants.

Eligible applicants must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be available for an intern orientation
  • Be available during the entire length of the program;
  • Be a U.S. citizen; and
  • Be a current undergraduate student. Seniors who will have graduated as of June of the program year are eligible to apply but should explain why an internship experience (as opposed to full-time employment) relates to their future goals.

Successful candidates also demonstrate:

  • an interest in arts management; and
  • arts/business/marketing coursework, professional work, or extracurricular activities.
  • A commitment to cultural equity.

No. Americans for the Arts builds bridges between the arts and business communities for the benefit of both. We know that diversity in the workplace can also mean bringing together a range of perspectives, spanning all areas of academia. Our internships are appropriate for all academic disciplines.

The program is only open to current undergraduate students.

This program is for students who are U.S. citizens and may legally work in the United States.

Letters of recommendation may be requested after you have been selected to move to the interview round and can be submitted via email.

After the initial review of the applications, selection staff will contact qualified host and intern candidates to schedule interviews. These interviews usually take place in March of the program year.

Generally, interviews are conducted via video conferencing (via Zoom). In-person interviews are not permitted this year.

Americans for the Arts and local coordinating agencies seeks not only the best talent, but also the best fit between an intern and a host organization. Matches between interns and host organizations are based not only on the needs and merits of an organization’s proposed project/s, but also on the talents and interests of intern applicants.

Over 10 weeks, interns complete projects in marketing and communications, development and fundraising, event planning, audience development, community outreach, and more.

For example, a recent intern with a contemporary dance company assisted with promotions for the company’s new production by organizing an online photo gallery, compiling press clippings, editing web videos, and researching and writing an educational study guide to accompany the production on tour. They also helped the company implement a studio rental marketing campaign; reviewed and summarized electronic donor campaigns; and assisted with the end of fiscal year merchandise reconciliation.

Another intern with an art museum worked on a cultural tourism initiative to promote the museum to local businesses and other cultural organizations. They assisted in organizing a small annual film festival and coordinated product donations from the community for the events. They also created a short curriculum guide for an upcoming exhibit.

This is an arts management internship, so it focuses on the skills used to bring the arts to audiences, not on making art. The program is a great way to sample the “behind the scenes” aspect of the arts, and it provides interns a stronger idea of what it takes to be an accomplished artist, but it is not a studio. Of course, there is often room for creativity in the administration of arts organizations.

Housing is not provided, but Americans for the Arts and local coordinating agencies provide accepted applicants with a list of summer housing suggestions.

Transportation to/from the host site is not provided.

Host organization supervisors will meet regularly with interns to define, review, and evaluate project and personal goals. Host organizations, interns, and mentors are each required to complete interim and final evaluation surveys distributed by AFTA to assess the program.

Accepted hosts and interns will be notified by April of the program year (check the Guidelines for this year's dates). Americans for the Arts will contact you first by phone or e-mail to offer you a spot in our program and after you accept, will follow up with you to tell you the name of your host and supervisor or intern. We will then mail both hosts and interns further information about their match along with a program contract to be signed and returned to Americans for the Arts.

Americans for the Arts strives to ensure that those who have been historically underrepresented in the arts based on race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, geography, citizenship status, or religion are represented and can thrive in the Diversity in Arts Leadership program.

Due to COVID-19 impacts, the 2021 DIAL program will be fully remote. As our program coordinators have experience leading the cohort remotely last year, they are looking to provide an even more substantive, community driven, and grounding experience for all of our DIAL network.