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The Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne, Professor Barry Conyngham, has enthusiastically welcomed the allocation in yesterday’s state budget of $24 million to support arts education at the VCA.

Professor Conyngham said the fulfillment of the promise made by the Premier would allow VCA to “do the job we want to do”.

The funding committed in the 2011-12 Victorian Budget is for $6 million a year over four years.

It will deliver a range of practical initiatives to provide career pathways for students, including:
•    improved infrastructure at the VCA's Southbank campus
•    graduate opera and music theatre programs in conjunction with industry
•    scholarships to attract outstanding talent
•    a regional training program
•    a master teachers' series that will bring the best international expertise to the VCA.

It was a “large grant to the University specifically for VCA to enable us to continue studio teaching, develop new programs and new ways of connecting with the people of Victoria,” he said.

“The budget (announcement) is very much about fulfilling the promise of Victoria being the arts state of the country and also of making the VCA the arts institute, the jewel in the crown, of arts education in Australia.

“The future now looks fantastically bright for arts in Victoria, not only because of the VCA grant, but because of other initiatives which to me indicate that this is going to be a government interested in developing the arts, ensuring that Melbourne and Victoria remain the leaders in this area,” he said.

VCA Director Professor Su Baker also welcomed the budget announcement, saying it was a great day for VCA, and its staff and students and many supporters “who have believed there should be such a place as the VCA.”

“The broad public support for VCA over the last 12 months has indicated that if there wasn’t such a place we would have to invent it,” Professor Baker. “The grant is a wonderful support base for the future and so we’re extremely grateful.”

More information

Katherine Smith, University Media Unit
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