Projects, Placements and Participation: The Art Industry Internship Program


In 2003 South Australian School of Art (SASA) Art Industry Internship Program was introduced as a pilot study providing seven students with the opportunity to undertake a placement with a host organisation. The program had a double focus with the students gaining firsthand experience of the function and operation of a contemporary art venue, gallery or enterprise, while also undertaking a specific project that was academically assessed and of value to the host organisation. The program continued in 2004 with a doubling of student numbers and a corresponding expansion of host organisations.

This paper outlines the development and implementation of the SASA Internship Program. It considers the range and diversity of internships, the differences between formal and informal placements and raise questions concerning evaluation methods and the pedagogical implications for tertiary art education.

While acknowledging the obvious benefits to students in providing them with professional and vocational experience, this paper acknowledges the tensions that can arise between academic requirements and the expectations of host organisations, and between education and the market. In addressing these issues, this paper is framed by Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of ambivalence in order to articulate (and perhaps resolve) my own sense of uneasiness and discomfort when faced with the encroachment of market concerns onto the territory of the art curriculum.

Finally, my paper considers whether the Internship Programs can enhance graduate employment outcomes and provide a basis for further development of art school, industry and community linkages and collaborations.

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Jude Adams is a lecturer in the Visual Art & Design History/Theory Department of the South Australian School of Art (SASA), University of South Australia. Jude teaches core and elective courses in: Australian art; Sex, Gender and Representation; The Moving Image: Cinema and Art, and coordinates Professional Practice. In 2005 Jude was inaugural director of the SASA Gallery. In 2003 Jude initiated and developed the successful Arts Industry Internship Program, a project-based work experience course for Honours students. Special interests include modernist women artists, gender in contemporary visual practices and gender and the art school curriculum.