News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2017

Contact: Frank Sobrino (646) 664-9300 (CUNY)
              Ryan Max,, 212-513-9323 (Cultural Affairs)
              Erissa Scalera,, 212-852-8430 (Rockefeller Foundation)


Over 127 CUNY students will begin paid internships with 62 partner organizations

More than 220 students have participated in the program since it launched in 2016

New York – Today the City University of New York (CUNY), the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and the Rockefeller Foundation announced the launch of the second year of the CUNY Cultural Corps. The Cultural Corps places students in paid internship positions with New York City nonprofit cultural institutions – exposing students to opportunities and future careers in the arts and expanding the cultural community’s engagement with CUNY’s diverse pool of talent.

“CUNY students are the future of this city, the cultural center of the world, and it is critical that they have the opportunity to experience and pursue careers with New York’s renowned cultural institutions,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “These institutions can only benefit from the multifaceted talents, diverse perspectives, energy and commitment that our students bring.  And internships are increasingly important as part of the educational experience and as a leg up in a competitive market. This program is a win for everyone.”

“Cultural organizations are the cornerstones of neighborhoods in all five boroughs, and it’s essential that cultural staff and programming reflect and engage with the communities that are the source of their strength,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “The CUNY Cultural Corps is an extraordinary program that connects our cultural sector with an amazing group of students. I’ve watched the program grow over the first year, and meeting with Corps members has given me enormous confidence in the future of our city and cultural sector. I look forward to watching this new group of students grow into their new roles at institutions across the city.”

The kickoff celebration is Sept. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center. The event also marks the fifth year of the CUNY Service Corps, which provides students paid internships and work experience at government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

The Cultural Corps began in 2016 as a response to the city’s demographic survey of the DCLA’s grantees. The survey found that the staffs of cultural organizations fail to reflect the diversity of the city itself: 38 percent of cultural organization employees identified as people of color compared with 67 percent of city residents. Similar patterns hold for other categories such as gender identity and disability.

The Cultural Corps aims to be a strong student pipeline for successful alumni into New York City’s arts and culture institutions, expanding the pool of talented students that have access to employment opportunities in these organizations. These institutions include nonprofit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary and performing arts as well as public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies. The CUNY Cultural Corps is supported with funds from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation totaling $1,500,000 over both years.

Continued support for the CUNY Cultural Corps is a key recommendation of CreateNYC, the City’s first comprehensive cultural plan, published in July 2017. The Cultural Corps is one of the primary initiatives in the plan aimed at increasing the inclusiveness of cultural workforce, expanding groups’ access to new talent and helping to ensure that cultural programming connects with all New Yorkers.
“New York is the world’s greatest college campus, our cultural institutions are the world’s greatest classrooms, and this program allows young New Yorkers to take advantage of these unbelievable resources,” said Patrick Brennan, chief of staff of the Rockefeller Foundation. “CUNY has always been a launching pad for talented New Yorkers, and this program helps to give them the fuel they need to succeed."

This academic year, 127 students representing 16 CUNY colleges – 13 senior and comprehensive colleges and three community colleges – will be placed in internships with 62 cultural partners in all five boroughs, ranging from the American Museum of Natural History, New York City Ballet and Brooklyn Botanic Garden to the Academy of American Poets, Socrates Sculpture Park, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, Thalia Spanish Theatre, Staten Island Museum and Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Last year, 67 Cultural Corps members completed one-year part-time internships with 31 institutions participating. Eleven students stayed on for additional paid internship positions or were hired as part-time and full-time employees.  Additionally, the CUNY Cultural Corps Summer Intensive program provided 22 CUNY alumni interested in pursuing a career in arts and culture with two-month, full-time paid internships at 16 cultural venues. So far, four have been offered extended engagements.

Participant Stories
According to participants, the internships can be life changing.

Katarina Rodriguez, who graduated last spring from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, interned at Carnegie Hall as a Social Impact Programs Fellow. The experience has sparked an interest in teaching. As “a teacher of the arts,” she wants to “engage with different forms of creative expression whether it be songwriting, or poetry or looking at how creative expression allows people to heal and to embrace themselves and come out stronger.”

The partnering cultural institutions have also seen the energy, talent, and new perspectives that Corps members bring to their work. At the Public Theater, Ciara Murphy, director of strategic research and planning, praised recent City Tech graduate Olesea Galusca, who contributed to audience research as a Research and Planning intern. 

“The quality of Olesea’s work and enthusiasm is second to none,” Murphy said. “Olesea is making the invaluable contribution of helping The Public to better understand those we serve by making sure their stories are shared with our current staff, and archived for future researchers. Many thanks to everyone at CUNY Cultural Corps for matching us with such gifted students.”

About CUNY
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. Among our primary missions is to ensure adequate public funding for non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, throughout the five boroughs.

DCLA also works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City's economic vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City's five boroughs.