“Creativity is innate but culture is fostered.”
~ Agatha Gothe Snape
On Friday, 15/7/16, USYD’s Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) students and alumni, as well as supporters, held vigils at 11 am and 5 pm on the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW. The vigils were to protest SCA’s closure by the University of Sydney, proposed on the 21st of June without any consultation. SCA’s merge will force current students to transfer to University of New South Wales to continue their studies from Semester 1, 2017.
Dressed in red capes to show their unity, SCA students welcomed Barry Keldoulis to the stage. Once a candidate for the Arts Party, he addressed the fact that the proposal was not made with the people who it matters and affects most. He also encouraged the support of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).
Anthony Albanese, as part of the newly elected federal government, also had a few words to say: “Sydney is a global city…[which] values the enrichment art gives”. Without many local artists bringing cultural diversity to Sydney, businesses, residents and the community as a whole will be affected.
Alumni from SCA, such as Tim Silver, also graced the podium. Silver believes that since art is assorted, one art institution under UNSW will not allow the full and true experience of art. Not only that, but he argues that a single school, despite how excellent, will be easily controlled by the state.
Lionel Bawden, another SCA Alumni and previous winner of the prestigious Wynne Prize, said that our “arts education is murdered”. Sydney’s College of the Arts has a unique studio-based education that serves an entry point for people from all different levels of life. The students’ protest were not fighting only for their education but for the education of future students.
The last alumni to take the microphone was Agatha Gothe Snape, a SCA alumni who has exhibited in the Art Gallery of New South Wales previously. She spoke of the “weirdness” that was common with all the greatest artists past and present, a trait that could only be helped by a place that fostered growth. Without the history and politics that the college represents, Sydney’s art and public will not be deeply informed. By agreeing to merge SCA with UNSW, the University of Sydney will be going back on its promise made 25 years ago, to protect the art and creativity of its individuals.
By holding the vigils on the same day as the Art Gallery’s opening of one of the most famed art prizes in Australia, the Archibald Prize, SCA’s supporters hoped to highlight the importance of the college. However, as of now, students still do not have any solid information regarding their future.
Photo credit: VOIS Magazine
Last modified: July 25, 2016