SU BAKER – Improv & Music Theatre to Return to VCA

Posted by savevca1 on August 11th, 2010

New Director of VCA - Su Baker

What a difference a change of leadership can make.

Read today’s Canvas (The Age) written by Su Baker, the new Director of VCA, where she talks about her plans for a renewal of our much loved Victorian College of the Arts.

Highlights include the VCA half of VCAM regaining Music Theatre and a non-Melbourne Model contemporary music course (to include the highly respected VCA Improvisation stream).

Baker makes clear, VCA’s “courses can be distinct from the Melbourne Model programs as offered in other parts of the university” and that talent based entry isn’t going anywhere.

Current students can also be on the Curriculum Review Committee (email VCAM student Union rep Shane Woon Su Baker is also keen to hear from Industry and VCA Alumni who want to contribute to the VCA Review (email

So for Baker, it’s all about going above and beyond what VCA has ever achieved. Sounds great!

But will the University enable Baker’s vision to be realised?

In yesterday’s Age “University sources” rained on the parade of the Federal and State Labor Government’s funding announcement by insisting they still believe VCA is being subsidised to the tune of $18-$21m a year. So given Uni Melb Vice Chancellor has only committed to $5m a year in “subsidy” for VCA, even after the new funding is applied, VCA is still supposedly down $8-10m a year.


Considering the 2005 funding cut of $5.1m will be reversed if the Gillard Govt is returned to power, and VCA was running in the black before the 2005 cut, most people would have thought the ALP announcement should have solved VCA’s funding woes.

But since becoming a Faculty of the University, VCA is now subject to “Responsible Division Management” University rental and admin costs, resulting in the massive $18-$21m p/a alleged debt.

So will Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis ( and the University of Melbourne get real about these rental and admin charges and honour that the ALP funding announcement was intended to be a lasting solution?

Or is demerger from the University, as put-forward by the State Coalition and the Australian Greens, the best option?

What are you thoughts? Post below or on Facebook.

Read more about the rental and admin costs:

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11 Responses to “SU BAKER – Improv & Music Theatre to Return to VCA”

  1. de-freakin-merger!

  2. Kirsten Jones

    My son has been studying music: voice at VCA for last four years, and i am totally impressed with
    the wonderfully talented teaching and collegiate mentoring from which he has benefited.
    I believe Melb. Uni’s interest in VCA is all about $$ and they would like nothing better than to spread their overall costs through VCA and eat up funding that has been allocated by
    Fed/State Govt., whilst imposing their irrelevent Melb Model on a seemingly powerless VCA. I think demerger is the only way to go, with an ongoing committment of Govt funding.

  3. David Wilson

    Things are looking unbelievably good. I have faith in Su Baker having worked under her leadership in the School of Art for several years. I will be happy to assist in any way I can to restore the almost totally sabotaged VCA. Restoration of independence and independent funding should be our aim.

  4. I’d like to see the new head of VCA articulate her vision in Plain English rather than the mumbo-jumpbo crap Melburnians were fed in her 11 August column in the Age. It reinforces the stereotype that artists and their administrators are wankers.

  5. I’ve been off the airways and have just seen this latest good news. Congratulations and best wishes Su Baker; I thought your Age article clear and encouraging – wise to reinforce that Melbourne U accepted the Switzkowski Review’s recommendations to retain talent based entry and practical studio-based training. As to the ‘rent’ issue – the MU bean counters should recognise why they find themselves in ownership of the VCA assets.

  6. If it wasn’t for the SaveVCA website there is almost no public outlet for what is really happening in higher education. For example, if you glance at the Australian higher education section, there are many articles but closer inspection reveals that many are written not by journalists of that paper but by people with vested interests. Often the actual positions of these authors are not stated; you have to Google to find out who they are and what organisations they represent. Then if you look down the bottom of the webpage, you see where readers can comment. Look at it today (link below) and see how many of the 20 or more articles actually have reader feedback. None. Is it possible that no reader comments were ever submitted to any of these various topics? Obviously not, so it shows you what standard of journalism we are being fed. Thank heavens for the Save VCA people. We need more groups like this.

  7. update: so after 2 days The Australian Higher Education section has only allowed comments on one of the 25 articles, “Student volunteers to get HECS break”, a relatively minor topic about a pilot study to encourage volunteering among university students. The article was written by a journalist. The big issues on the same page are kept clean of any reader comments. You wonder why? Is it that the advertising revenue by universities is too important to lose by telling a story straight, or allowing some other perspective, or even some facts? Perhaps a staff member of The Australian would like to explain to us here why we don’t deserve anything like a balanced analysis of the major issues confronting staff and students at our universities.

  8. Christian Patton

    I worked under David Wilson and Su Baker at VCA for three years. I would not trust Su Baker as far as i could throw her. She has about the same level of maturity as a first year art student straight out of VCE. She is far more concerned with her own (very) minor celebrity than the wellfare of VCA or the arts in general in this country.

    Personally, i beleive Melbourne needs a brand-new arts institution with new systems and infrastructure suited to the current era.

    Wading through the numerous layers of red tape and administration is likely to be both wasteful of resources and unsuccsessful. cp.

  9. Christian Patton

    Also, i’m very surprised to see David Wilson offering personal support to Su Baker, since Su personally demolished much of what David Wilson had worked for years to acheive.

    I ca’nt understand that at all…..

  10. “AUQA gives model a pass”

    The Australian reports that the University of Melbourne got a commendation for its ‘melbourne model’ from the quality monitoring body, the AUQA, but upon reading the actual statement (see below), the headline deliberately misrepresents the AUQA. The VCA is never mentioned, and they state the obvious, that the model outcomes “will not be apparent for years”. So why do Andrew Trounson and Jill Rowbotham convert this to a PR plus for Glyn Davis? ‘Please explain’?
    Of course the critical current issue for AUQA is whether to let UoM get away with handing out ‘doctorates’ for their masters courses. If the AUQA have any credibility they must block it, then the real drama will start.

    “THE University of Melbourne has been commended by the national quality assurance agency for monitoring and improving its new Melbourne model but was also cautioned that there needs to be greater attention to ensuring schools and employers are aware of its aims and outcomes.”
    [quote from The Australian higher education section]

  11. As we move into this new phase – it transpires that funding at present levels look to remain quite inadequate – and the VCA in its current form is not going to get any relief from the university in terms of rent or admin. The insult to injury that resulted in VCA losing its domain to Melbourne UNI -just so that MU can charge rent and admin fees speaks volumes about the travesty that has been ‘allowed’ to occur. This new phase requires the will of both tiers of Government to consolidate these first minor gestures and restore the VCA’s independence with its property intact. To add to the sour grapes it now appears that the University will not allow VCA to ‘Breadth out’ in aid of supporting itself in this new phase – just to keep the College and the ‘faithless’ at heel. Woe betide anyone who doesnt follow Glyn’s vision.

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