Americans for the Arts


Americans for the Arts

The Government & Public Affairs Department

LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

INDUSTRY: Advocacy / Grassroots

ABOUT AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS: Americans for the Arts builds recognition and support for the extraordinary and dynamic value of the arts and serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. The vision of Americans for the Arts is that the arts are recognized as integral to the lives of all people and essential to healthy, vibrant and equitable communities across the nation. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Americans for the Arts has headquarters in Washington, DC and a second office located in New York, NY.

ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM: The Americans for the Arts Internship Program offers undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates the opportunity to investigate and participate in the operations of the nation’s leading nonprofit for advancing the arts in America. Through a combination of learning experiences, work projects, and group collaborations, interns become integral members of our team. Interns are expected to participate in daily activities, contribute skills and ideas, and produce excellent work, all the while preparing to become the next generation of arts, nonprofit, and cultural leaders.

In addition to being a part of their departmental team within a professional office environment, interns will have the opportunity to meet everyone at Americans for the Arts and learn how each department works towards the organization’s mission. Additional program benefits include: professional development opportunities; informational interviews with contacts in the field; peer-to-peer networking; and career counseling including resume/cover letter/interview evaluation and review.

DEPARTMENT OVERVIEW: The Government & Public Affairs Department works at the federal, state, and local levels to advance pro-arts legislation and initiatives. The department works closely with elected officials and their staffs to build relationships that support funding for the arts and arts education in America. Key policy areas include education, tax reform and appropriations. The Government & Public Affairs Intern will work closely with the Federal Affairs team to promote advocacy for the arts.


  • Working with Government Affairs staff to create a digital Congressional survey to gather data on the artistic abilities, talents, and interests of members of Congress. The information gathered and compiled from this survey will guide future advocacy efforts and Capitol Hill outreach.
  • Creating materials to introduce new members of Congress and new Administration staff after the 2020 election to introduce them to the resources and legislative priorities of Americans for the Arts.
  • Assisting with outreach to congressional offices, both U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
  • Reviewing publications and drafting summaries related to national policy areas including education, tax, arts and culture, economic development, international cultural exchange, the arts and health, and the arts and the military.
  • Attending and reporting on virtual Congressional committee hearings and other national policy forums as needed.
  • Creating point of contact lists for legislative coalitions utilizing Congress Plus.
  • Updating VoterVoice database for “Call to Action” advocacy email blasts.

Additional projects may include:

  • Contacting state and local arts leaders regarding federal advocacy activities.
  • Assisting the Arts Education Program Manager regarding arts education policy objectives.
  • Other projects and assignments given by the Vice President of Government Affairs & Arts Education, the Director of Federal Affairs, and the Government Affairs and Grassroots Manager


Americans for the Arts has been working remotely since March 2020. We have improved out communication systems in the remote environment to better allow staff to work together and learn about each other. As such, Interns will need to have access to their own internet-capable computer. Americans for the Arts will provide the necessary licenses to Office365 so Interns will have access to email and filing system, as well as a a RingCentral account, our internal phone and messaging system.

The intern will be invited to participate in All Staff Meetings, department meetings, attend (virtual) social events and Learning Labs, which are staff driven programs to better promote equity and collaboration internally so we can better advance for our mission. Cultural Equity is a key component of our ability to work together and is necessary to work remotely effectively.

CULTURAL EQUITY COMPETENCIES: Americans for the Arts acknowledges the existence of systemic and structural biases and believes it is necessary to be strategic and intentional in pursuing cultural equity in all aspects of governance, operations, and programming. As an employee, you are expected to:

  • Pursue substantive learning to achieve greater cultural consciousness by attending at least one Americans for the Arts Learning Lab per quarter and/or other professional development opportunities
  • Support adoption of best practices to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work experience for colleagues and external partners
  • Strive to consider the people, places, and cultures that might be missing from your work and look for opportunities to increase inclusivity in all the work you do.
  • Support the mission and vision of Americans for the Arts in all interactions with colleagues, members and stakeholders
  • Encourage colleagues and external stakeholders to advance cultural equity by adhering to the standards outlined in the Staff Values & Behavior Agreement in all interactions


WORKING HOURS: There is flexibility regarding which hours the intern works.

EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE: Access to high-speed Wi-Fi, Personal laptop, Web Camera

2020 Intern Reflection

As a Government Affairs intern at Americans for the Arts (AFTA), I work with all 5 members of the Government Affairs team to create arts policy briefs and infographics and compile research and resources to promote grassroots arts advocacy. A typical day involves a combination of meetings (with my team members, local and national arts leaders, coalitions with other nonprofits, or members of Congress) and independent work. While much of my work was short-term and reactive due to the rapidly-changing policy landscape during the coronavirus pandemic, some of my favorite longer-term projects included drafting resolutions supporting the arts on behalf of the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association, researching and writing a blog post about virtual arts and social justice camps, and creating a 1-pager on coronavirus policy asks from the arts and culture sector. AFTA is a welcoming and dynamic workplace, and they strive to create opportunities for their interns to build connections with employees from around the organization and within the nonprofit arts sector as a whole. I found that while a general education in arts and government are both helpful as framing resources, many of the specific policies or databases used (like VoterVoice and Congress Plus) could be learned on the job. I cannot recommend this organization enough, especially if you are looking to go into any sort of arts-related field!

 -Rena Cohen '22

Washington, D.C.