Save Sydney College of the Arts

On 21 June 2016 a joint statement released by the University of Sydney and the University of NSW announced that the two organisations had signed a Heads of Agreement for the Sydney College of Arts (SCA) to merge into UNSW Art and Design (UNSWA&D).

The proposal has been met with an overwhelmingly negative response from students and staff at both SCA and UNSW, as well as the broader arts community and industry professionals in Sydney, including museum directors, commercial art galleries, benefactors, private collectors, members of parliament and peak bodies.

The Friends of SCA are calling on the University of Sydney to:

  • Recognise that the proposed ‘merger’ with UNSWA&D will not lead to a centre of excellence but reduce the vitality of art and design education and research in New South Wales and AustraliWithdraw immediately from the Heads of Agreement with the University of New South Wales
  •  Establish an external independent review of Sydney College of the Arts that is open, genuine and transparent in its consultation with staff, senior artists and alumni, as well as contemporary museum and gallery professionals, to ensure SCA’s long term sustainability
  • Recognise that Sydney, as a global city, must have a diversity of art schools as an essential ingredient for creating the optimum conditions that are part of building a vibrant creative Australia, and should retain the current number of three art schools, which all have a distinctive history, culture and mission.

About Sydney College of the Arts

Sydney College of the Arts trains the makers and interpreters of contemporary art to be skilled and knowledgeable, innovative and resourceful in their practice. SCA has for over forty years produced an astonishing range of graduates with practices and careers of national and international significance, and has supported them in turn through employment in the organisation, whether as sessional or permanent staff.

Established in 1976 when it took responsibility for design diploma courses previously conducted by the Department of Technical and Further Education, a visual arts program was offered by SCA the following year.

In 1988, the Design School and the Visual Arts School separated; the design courses moved to the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney, and SCA became solely dedicated to the research and practice of contemporary visual arts.

On 1 January 1990, SCA became an academic college of the University of Sydney with status equivalent to a faculty. In 1996, after twenty years located in ‘temporary’ premises in Balmain, SCA relocated to the historic Kirkbride buildings in Rozelle. SCA provides a specialist and multi-disciplinary approach to research-based visual arts education that reflects the diversity of professional art practice.
Sydney College of the Arts has shepherded a formidable number of highly respected and acclaimed practicing artists and arts professionals into the local and national arts sector. SCA’s staff maintain professional profiles in their field, with most exhibiting and publishing nationally and internationally.

By combining conceptual rigour and studio-based experimentation, SCA delivers a distinctive visual arts education that is particularly relevant and necessary today. SCA has always maintained a conceptual focus in its training of artists; as contemporary art is beholden to conceptual art, a conceptual grounding is essential to arts education. SCA has always encouraged experimental practice and insisted on the vital importance of studio space to such experimentation. At the same time, SCA values the diversity that is offered by the different emphases and traditions of Sydney’s other art schools. SCA acknowledges that such diversity in art education is essential to the most innovative and robust cultures.