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Gig&Tell: Barter Theatre

  • Overworked & Underpaid in a Confederate Region -- Don't Even Bother    
    07/23/2018  5:00pm

    I moved from the Midwest to intern in their costuming department. I expected, seeing as the job was called an internship, that I'd be learning a lot in the shop, in addition to working some shows on the side. It was the opposite. My 40-hour weeks consisted primarily of show maintenance work as a crew member, which meant I was less of a paid intern and more of a grossly underpaid crew person ($200 per week; $5/hr, to be specific). The costuming department in general, as I learned, is paid significantly less than the other departments because costuming is "typically women's work." So additionally this theatre's wage model is sexist.

    Yes, housing was included at no charge; however, the communal kitchens are outdated, over-crowded, and disgustingly dirty. The rooms themselves were better. Each room is fully furnished and decorated and has a private bathroom; although not all rooms are private. Coin laundry facilities are located in the basement and are cheaper than the local laundromat, as I found out. Barter Inn is secluded and private from the main roads, so I never felt like any non-Barter folk would wander up and try to get in the building (which is secured with key code entry).

    The town, overall, is small and rural. There's not much to do (i.e. shopping, restaurant variation, etc) without traveling at least 20-45 minutes via the expressway. The local demographic consists of primarily blue collar white people. I saw very few people of color in the local demographic. As a white woman, I didn't feel unsafe; however, I was both incredibly uncomfortable by the lack of racial diversity and could only imagine the racism that POC faced living in the area. Historically the Abingdon/SW Virginia area was involved in the coal mining industry and since Obama regulated it, they're raging Trump supporters (read: supporters of his rhetoric). Additionally, according to my neighbor, whose family lives in the area, meth addicts are abundant. Although promises low crime rates, which surprised me considering how much verbal aggression I witnessed and experienced first-hand while living there.

    All-in-all, I regret taking this job. The aforementioned comments about the town and the housing are my own view point and left to your discretion. Wages, however, are the most important point of consideration. I took a huge financial loss because I was under a particular impression -- that I'd walk away from this internship having learned a lot, which I thought was worth the financial loss. And also: NONE of my networks/friends thought to forewarn me that Barter, apparently, is NOTORIOUS for underpaying their employees. I want to, at least, be the person who tells you that, in case no one yet has.

  • Loved it    
    05/19/2014  1:08am

    Beautiful small town, passionate artists, lovely historic theatre. My time at Barter was life-changing.

    Beautiful housing. Good company car system. Loving town. Amazing run/walk trail. Gym discount. Quaint little town. Really enjoyed it! They only take a few non-eq a year to fill in their cast. If you’re selected TAKE IT and Feel very special.

    03/18/2018  11:05am

    Barter Theatre is 100% focused on serving their community and the people of Appalachia. The company is full of the most passionate, positive, and caring artists I’ve ever worked with! Barter is a true repotory theatre and has four to five production running at all times between their two theatre spaces. The town of Abingdon is beautiful and if you love the outdoors and music (especially county, bluegrass, and folk) this is the perfect place for you. Don’t pass up an opportunity to work and this historic theatre! You will leave feeling inspired and truly understand how big of an impact theatre can have on a community.

    06/24/2018  1:37am