SCA is a significant contributor to Australian cultural life and an agent for cultural change and development in the broader community. It has a national and international reputation in the visual arts sector for its strong conceptual and theoretical approach to contemporary art practice that:

• educates and trains people as artists, curators, critics and cultural producers – to be skilled and knowledgeable, innovative and resourceful in their creative work, often across trans, multi and cross-disciplinary practices

• equips students with knowledge and skills in the areas of photography, ceramics, design, screen arts, journalism, animation, sound design, print making, gaming development, curating, community work, jewellery, teaching, writing, painting, glass, music, publishing

• provides a holistic studio-based teaching model with critical studies at the heart of the curriculum that gives students the space to analyse, test, challenge and extend the principles, histories and narratives of visual art and to be thinking makers

• produces graduates who work in the ‘cultural sector’ and in sectors not explicitly aligned with the creative arts and culture who bring a fresh perspective to their roles and disciplines because they have been trained to communicate in new ways

• attracts a staff of leading practicing artists who are nationally and internationally recognised in their fields and have an outstanding record in research outcomes — above world standard or higher in 2010, 2012 and 2015 ERA assessment rounds.

• and distinguished alumni that include Jane Campion and Marc Newson, Archibald winners Ben Quilty and Fiona Lowry, Biennale of Sydney artists Mikala Dwyer, Justene Williams, Agatha Gothe-Snape and Maria Fernanda Cardoso

• encourages research links and collaborations among SCA staff, HDRs, other schools and departments within the University, and external partners including the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Carriageworks, the Biennale of Sydney, the Bundanon Trust, the City of Sydney, multiple regional galleries and museums, and community organisations such as the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council, the Redfern Station Community Group, and Eora TAFE.

Why Art Schools Matter


A video by Barbara Doran



“I am currently in the wilds of NZ but I want to add my name to your protest letter. My time at SCA was the single most defining expanding education of my life and I want others to have such an opportunity. The independence and boutique quality of the school was one of its defining strengths. I believe size and amalgamation in a more conservative university system is a real threat.  Jane Campion, Filmmaker, SCA Alumna.


An open letter to Ms Belinda Hutchinson AM, Chancellor and Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor, the University of Sydney from members of the concerned arts community.

Over four decades Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has been recognised as a world-class institution vital to the education of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. With alumni including Marc Newson, Ben Quilty, Jane Campion, Bronwyn Bancroft, Lindy Lee, Fiona Foley, Shaun Gladwell, Fiona Lowry and Justene Williams, SCA has been a cultural leader and has shaped who we are as Australians and our place in the world. The University of Sydney should celebrate the presence of a leading art school, as well as SCA’s global leadership in research and education.

However, in full awareness of the proposed ‘merger’ of Sydney College of the Arts with University of New South Wales Art and Design (UNSWA&D) at the end of 2016, we, the undersigned, call 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 Australia.
  • Withdraw 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 process with staff, senior artists and alumni, and 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 3 art schools, each with their own distinctive history, culture and mission.


Ken Unsworth AM, Hon DVisArts (Sydney), Artist

Neil Armfield AO, Director, Adelaide Festival

Jane Campion, SCA Alumna, Film Director

Hon Peter Collins AM QC, Minister for the Arts (1988-95)

Djon Mundine OAM, Indigenous curator, writer, artist and activist

Liz Ann Macgregor OBE, Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore (Lord Major 2004-present)

Sam Meers AO, Executive Director, Nelson Meers Foundation

Simon Mordant AM, Supporter

Roslyn Oxley AO and Tony Oxley AO, Directors, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Penelope Seidler AM, Supporter

Tamara Winikoff OAM, Executive Director, National Association of Visual Arts; Co-convenor, ArtPeak

Sally Breen, Art collector, Benefactor

Eleonora Triguboff, Chair of the ARTAND Foundation

Professor Jim Allen, Hon DVisArts (Sydney), Artist, Founding Head of School, Sydney College of the Arts (1977-87)

Darani Lewers AM, Artist, Hon DVisArts (Sydney)

Wesley Enoch, Director, Sydney Festival

Sarah Cottier and Ashley Barber, Directors, Sarah Cottier Gallery

Anne Flanagan, SCA Alumna, former Deputy Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales (2010-15)

Peter J Jopling, AM QC, Barrister

Barry Keldoulis, CEO and Director of Sydney Contemporary

David Broker, Director, Canberra Contemporary Art Space

Brenda L CroftHon DVisArts (Sydney), Adjunct Research Fellow, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales, Gurindji/Malngin/Mudpurra/Anglo-Australian artist, curator, writer and activist

Emeritus Professor Richard Dunn, Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Visual Art, University of Sydney

Professor Terry Smith, Andrew W Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Pittsburgh

Ben Quilty, SCA Alumnus, Artist, winner Archibald Prize (2011) and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (2009)

Judy Watson, Aboriginal Artist, Venice Biennale (1997)

Fiona Lowry, SCA Alumna, Artist, winner Archibald Prize (2014) and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (2008)

Wendy Sharpe, Artist, winner Archibald Prize (1996) and official Australian War Artist in East Timor (1999-2000)

Rosemary Laing, SCA Alumna, Artist

Justene Williams, SCA Alumna, Artist

Bronwyn Bancroft, SCA Alumna, Aboriginal curator, writer, artist and activist

John Kirkman, Executive Director, Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE)

Associate Professor Simone Douglas, SCA Alumna, Artist, Parsons the New School for Design, New York

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown

Professor Helen Grace, Associate, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney (taught at SCA 1981-87)

John Maynard & Briget Ikin, FELIX MEDIA

Dr Dominik Mersch, Director, Dominik Mersch Gallery

Linda Michael, Deputy Director and Senior Curator, Heide Museum of Modern Art

PJ Collins, Party Leader, Arts Party

John Young, SCA Alumnus, Artist

Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art

Professor Callum Morton, Artist, Head of Department (Art), Monash Art, Design & Architecture, Monash University

Dr Maryanne Coutts, Artist, Head of Drawing, National Art School

Mike Parr, Artist, former Sydney College of the Arts staff member

Patricia Piccinini, Artist, Australian representative, 50th Venice Biennale (2003)

Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf, Directors, Sullivan & Strumpf Gallery

Anna Schwartz, Director, Anna Schwartz Gallery

Daniel & Matt Tobin, Directors, UAP Brisbane/New York/Shanghai

Dr Peter Tonkin, Director, Tonkin Zulaikh Greer

Hugo Weaving, Actor

Brian Zulaikha, Director, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer

Professor Richard Goodwin, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Professor Su Baker, SCA Alumna, Artist, Director, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

Geoff Kleem, Artist, Head of Photomedia, The National Art School

Professor Jon Cattapan, Artist, Deputy Director, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

Max Delany, Artistic Director & CEO, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne

Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Brad Miller, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Professor Sarah Miller, Head, School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong

Steve Weymouth, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Professor Nikos Papastergiadis, Professor of Media and Communication, University of Melbourne, FAHA

Debra Phillips, SCA Alumna, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Professor Ted Snell AM CitWA, Chief Cultural Officer, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia

Associate Professor John Conomos, Artist, Honorary Principal Fellow, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

Dr Gabrielle Finnane, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Carolyn Symonds, Supporter

Associate Professor Phillip George, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Associate Professor Bonita Ely, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

John Gillies, SCA Alumnus, Artist

Dr Alex Davies, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Professor Charles Green, Head of Art Curatorship, Art History, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Bernard Ollis, Artist, former Director of the National Art School (1996-2008)

Associate Professor Derek Kreckler, SCA alumna, Artist, School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong

Louise Fowler-Smith, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Dr Alexandra Crosby, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney

Kon Gouriotis OAM, Supporter, former Director, Visual Arts, Australia Council for the Arts (2008 – 2011)

Ken Herd, Supporter

Allan Giddy, Artist, UNSWA&D, University of New South Wales

Deborah Ely, Chief Executive Officer, Bundanon Trust

Nigel Lendon, Artist, former Deputy Head, School of Art, Australian National University

Peter Burgess, Artist, Head of Printmaking, the National Art School

Heather Mitchell, Actress, Director, Sydney Theatre Company Foundation Board

Janet Laurence, Artist, 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and 9th Biennale of Sydney (1992)

Dr Anthony White, President, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand

Mitsu Shoji, Artist, former SCA staff

Associate Professor Helge Larsen, Hon DVisArts (Sydney) Artist, former SCA staff

Nicholas Tsoutas, former director of Artspace (Sydney), the Performance Space (Sydney), the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane) and former SCA staff member