Update from SAVE VCA & VCA

Posted by savevca1 on September 22nd, 2010

To paraphrase Sondheim, “we’re still here”. Like the rest of Australia, SAVE VCA members waited nervously as to the outcome of the Federal election, which would decide if the Australian Labor Party promise of $5.1m per year for VCA from 2012 would come to fruition. As you would be aware, we now have a minority Labor Government, however we are quietly confident that with State &  Federal Labor’s support, and the help of VCA allies like new Federal Greens Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt, VCA(M) will see the cash.

The $5.1m figure exactly matches the 2005 cut which precipitated the merger of VCA and the University of Melbourne, so theoretically VCA should be ‘saved’ (at least financially).

However, Save VCA remains concerned about the additional costs VCA sustained through becoming a Faculty of the University rather than remaining an affiliated College i.e. increased rental and administration charges of over $9.8 m per year with an actual reduction in provided services.

To date, the University has not made any public commitment to formally reducing these costs which clearly make the continuation of the merger untenable. The major support received from government will not be useful if the costs of being a Faculty mean that the University still wants to cut the budget by up to $10m (read more about this figure via The Age).

And hence our focus now turns to the Victorian State Election on 27 November, where both The Greens and the Victorian Liberals advocate a return to an independent VCA. In the case of the Victorian Liberals, they have also pledged a further $6m in recurring funding.

If the Federal election taught as anything is that your vote matters – all 14,141 SAVE VCA Member can claim credit for the $5.1m p/a VCA looks set to receive from 2012. And with a final push in the lead up to the State election, we can get our independence back too.

The curriculum review currently taking place at VCA certainly has a much lower profile than the University’s VCAM review of 2009/2010, however all reports to date suggest staff and student input is being actively sought.

If you have any concerns with the curriculum review, or any other matters at VCA you can post them below (can be anonymous) or email us at savevca@savevca.org. For staff you can also contact the NTEU (http://www.nteu.org.au/vic/) and for students you can contact your student Union Rep Shane Woon http://union.unimelb.edu.au/vcam).

As requested by the new VCA Management, we have included the below updates:

Message from the Acting Dean Warren Bebbington

(extract of email sent to staff and students on 16/09/10)

With the clarification yesterday that Senator Chris Evans will be the Minister responsible for tertiary education, we are now taking steps with Canberra to secure the Federal Government’s pledge to provide over $5 million p.a. additional funding to the VCA from 2012. Meanwhile we are planning the public launch of the new VCA Foundation for late November, which with the State and Federal contributions will now commence with an endowment of $4 million.

I met yesterday with State Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu and Shadow Arts Minister Heidi Victoria. They have reaffirmed that a Coalition Government would also provide $6 million p.a. if elected in November, subject to continued subsidy from the University. Their commitment to the arts was very evident; all in all, indications for the Faculty’s financial future seem very positive from both sides of politics.


From The Director of the VCA* Su Baker

(supplied directly to SAVE VCA)

*SAVE VCA NOTE: As a result of the University’s response to its own VCAM Review, VCAM is still a single faculty but split into two divisions being Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and ‘the rest’ (known as VCA). Melbourne Conservatorium of Music is completely Melbourne Model based whereas VCA is non-Melbourne Model.

I want to update you all on how things are going down here at the VCA. We are feeling pretty excited and have a sense of renewed enthusiasm and energy, and in particular with the prospect of new Federal funding.   

We are awaiting further advice about the Federal funding and getting on with the developing support for the VCA Foundation.  The benefit of establishing the Foundation is that we can build a level of independence from the changing public funding environment and add the necessary premium to our resources.

State Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts Heidi Victoria have reaffirmed that a Coalition Government would also provide $6 million p.a. if elected in November, subject to continued subsidy from the University. The State Opposition’s commitment to the arts was very evident; all in all, indications for the VCA’s financial future seem very positive from both sides of politics.

It is important to note that the funding pledge from the Federal and State governments rely on a continued subsidy from the University, which it has agreed to extend. We are all working towards a stable and productive future for the VCA and are making good progress on negotiating the central charges such as rent and making plans for new income. It will take a bit of time to unpack things in this new structure, but with the Heads of Schools we are in the process of preparing a new 5  year plan that will see us developing a long term security. It is important to remember that the new funding will kick in from 2012, and there is a lot of work to do before then.

So there is a lot happening! The usual business of the build up to the end of the year performances, exhibitions and screenings is underway, and students in the final year of their studies will be getting that feeling of trepidation and exhilaration that comes with the big finale! I am sure it will be a great Graduation Season.

The new VCA is beginning to take shape, with great discussions going on about the new programs. The support that we have felt and that has translated into financial and material support has been both humbling and reassuring in equal measure.

We are having great discussions about the new scope for courses and an expansion of disciplines, including visual arts, animation, contemporary music, and the exciting new approaches to performing arts programs including new music theatre programs, and a set of new graduate courses. We are deep in discussion about this and will be looking to report on how it is all going in a few weeks.

So as things stand we are doing well and we are looking forward to a bumper end of the year season! Hope you can join us your favourite events.

Be in touch again soon. Watch this space.

Su Baker (bakerse@unimelb.edu.au)

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One Response to “Update from SAVE VCA & VCA”

  1. Meanwhile, Glyn Davis has been given ‘a leg up’ by the ABC, who have booked him for the Boyer lecture series in November 14 of this year. No protests allowed here – it is a ‘radio lecture’. A national platform for one-way propaganda. Perhaps the VCA could ask the ABC for equal time to Glyn. I’m sure VCA supporters could put together a much more interesting series: the ‘counter-Boyer’ lecture….

    ref: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/boyerlectures/

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