The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA)

VCA Dance Transmutation, 'Attracted to Light' by Anna Smith, Lighting Design & Photo by Geordie Barker

From its start in 1867 as the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, VCA has become one of Australia’s most highly regarded educational institutions, providing a crucible for new talent, unwavering support to local industry and a breeding ground for fresh artistic endeavor.

The VCA was officially proclaimed in 1972, and over the next twenty-nine years the College grew to encompass a School of Art (1973), School of Music (1974), School of Drama (1975), School of Dance (1979), School of Film and Television (1992) and the School of Production (2001). Until earlier this year, VCA had the distinction of being one of the few arts colleges in the world to offer courses in all the major arts forms on one campus.

The VCA Secondary School was originally one of the Schools of VCA.  Following an initiative of the State Government, it now operates autonomously but continues to share strong links with the Tertiary College, particularly in feeding talent to the VCA Dance and Music Schools.

The reputation of VCA has been built on thirty-six years of offering intensive, practical-based training in specialised areas of expertise, where students learn by doing. Whether you use graduate success or the fierce annual competition for course entry or the esteem the College enjoys in the industry as your yard stick, there is no doubt the VCA has a lot to be proud of and a lot to give Australia.

For a small selection of VCA’s alumni click here.

VCA and the University of Melbourne (UoM)

In 1988 the Hawke Government created a unified system of higher education.  This meant that, because it was relatively small at around 1,000 students, VCA could no longer receive direct Federal funding. As a result, VCA became an affiliate of the University of Melbourne (UoM). This affiliation grew in 1991 when UoM assumed responsibility for VCA academic programs. In practical terms, this meant UoM accredited VCA courses. The VCA and UoM affiliation enabled VCA to continue offering its unique breed of training whilst maintaining its independence.

However, in 2005 the Howard Federal Government introduced the “cluster” system of academic funding which left VCA facing a 35% cut in revenue – a devastating blow to an institution whose courses were, by nature of the practical training, expensive. The Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson instructed UoM to fund the shortfall ($5.3m per year).

With the knowledge that repeated VCA attempts to obtain direct Federal funding through the Arts Ministry (as enjoyed by Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts and Australian Film Television and Radio School) had failed, it was thought the best hope for long term sustainability was for VCA to fully integrate with UoM. The current Victorian Government, based on commitments contained in a Heads of Agreement document, passed the Melbourne University (Victoria College of the Arts) Act 2006. VCA became a Faculty of UoM on 1 January 2007. VCA then amalgamated with UoM’s existing Faculty of Music to become the new Faculty of the VCA and Music (VCAM) in April 2009.

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