Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hope for the Future - Victorian College of the Arts

I know it's last minute, but I've done it!

I just submitted my response to the Discussion Paper on the future of the VCA. I've pasted it below, if you're interested in my thoughts. But more importantly, be sure to send the Review Committee your own thoughts.

Visit for a template that you can use, or write your own. If you're passionate about Melbourne's vibrant dance scene, make an effort to save the VCA. Just make sure that you send it in by February 12. (Yes! today!)

Dear Review Committee,

Thank you for the opportunity to have input into the future of the Victorian College of the Arts. I write to you as a graduate of the VCA Dance school and the Arts Management course which was run jointly through the VCA and University of Melbourne. I have also attended many performances of the VCA Dance school in my capacity as dance critic for The Age newspaper.

Studying at the VCA had a profound effect on me. As a dance student, being immersed in the ‘Melbourne Scene’ was possibly the best contemporary dance training one could hope for without leaving Australia. Having close contact with active performing artists and choreographers, who were engaged as sessional teachers and who created new and exciting dance works for us to perform, was an invaluable experience.

When I attended last year’s VCA Dance graduation performance, it was clear that the students continue to enjoy this close relationship with prominent Australian contemporary dance artists. It only makes sense, for this city, which is a hub of contemporary dance, to also be home to a leading training institution.
• It benefits the students, who complete their training in close proximity to practicing artists and have access to regular live performances
• It benefits the artists, who find paid work within the institution to supplement their own practice
• It benefits the choreographers and employers of contemporary dancers, such as Chunky Move and Balletlab, who often absorb VCA graduates directly into paid work.

In reading the discussion paper, it seems to me that in relation to Curriculum Options, either Option 1 or Option 3 are the only options which could provide appropriate outcomes for students if the VCA hopes to maintain the high quality of its dance school. Option 2, demoting the current Dance Degree to a generalist degree with the option of dance as a major, would devalue the course to the point where it would no longer be a viable choice for those hoping to find work as a professional dancer.

The possible demise of the specialist dance degree at VCA is a real threat to the ecology of contemporary dance in Melbourne. Without this artistic incubator where choreographers find employment while future artists are trained, the current climate of constant creation could easily stagnate, strangling the vibrant organism that is Melbourne dance.

If maintaining the dance school in its current state requires seeking additional funding, directly from the federal government or from other sources, then I would urge the Review Committee to make such a recommendation.

Yours sincerely,
Chloe Smethurst

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