Arts Education Funding Concerning for Arts Future

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Tara Ingham

Arts education within Australia continues to suffer financially and it seems little is being done to amend this situation.

Photo by Tara Ingham
Photograph by Tara Ingham

Deputy Director for the Queensland College of Arts Gold coast Associate professor Donal Fitzpatrick says that funding is being directed towards Science, technology, engineering and medicine (S.T.E.M) and away from the Arts.

“It seems to be a cultural dysfunction,” Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Professor Fitzpatrick suspects that with upcoming government education changes the loss of funding for Arts education will accelerate.

“Many universities will see that the arts are something they can’t afford to offer any more,” Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Vice president of the Queensland Teachers Union Julie Brown agrees, saying that while literacy and numeracy education are an important focus, schools need to focus on educating the whole child.

“The emphasis on literacy and numeracy has gone so far as to marginalise those other subjects,” Mrs Brown says.

Professor Fitzpatrick says that the government’s poor understanding of the contribution the arts make helps contribute to the state of arts education funding.

“The arts are an afterthought, you add something decorative onto your life rather than [realising] they actually contribute massively to the economy and to the country,” Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Professor Fitzpatrick says that many of our neighbours teach in antiquated ways, giving Australian arts education a platform on which to compete.

“There is a case to be made for looking at how we focus that [funding]. Do we provide national centres for the arts or something,” Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Mrs Brown says that Queensland had the advantage of having teachers in specialised fields such as the arts and that she is concerned about how the national curriculum roll out could affect this.

“I think we need to keep nourishing children, the whole child, and I hope, I hope a lot, that our music teachers aren’t seen as marginal in the roll out of the arts,” Mrs Brown says,

“I’m concerned that when the arts curriculum comes in that there won’t be much time for it.”

Arts Minister Ian Walker was unavailable to comment, but in a press release issued in late, 2013, he highlighted upcoming specialised arts programs for schools.

http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/7/16/creativity-tops-the-class-for-artists-in-schools  Viewed 19 September 2014
http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/7/16/creativity-tops-the-class-for-artists-in-schools
Viewed 19 September 2014

Professor Fitzgerald says that focus should be placed on how and where funding is spent.

“Most universities, if they’re going to cut, they always cut the arts,” Professor Fitzgerald says.

Mrs Brown says too much emphasis is put on NAPLAN (National assessment program literacy and numeracy) results.

“It’s too easy for teachers and principals to say, oh well, we’ll give that a miss because we’re not going to get tested on it, and I think that’s a real pity,” Mrs Brown says.

Film student Amy Cattermole says the Australian film industry is looking pretty bad.

“Our industry is dying and it was already pretty small,” Miss Cattermole says.

Fellow film student Miss Thone agrees saying that there is little funding or scholarships available for film students.

“There are certain funding schemes you can go for, but they require you to already have certain funding,” Miss Thone says.

Music student Michelle Henderson says that she is fortunate to have a family who can financially support her.

“For someone not so fortunate to have the right financial situation, it would be very hard,” Miss Henderson says.

To hear more from Donal Fitzpatrick, Julie Brown or any other talent, please follow the link attached to their name.

A Brisbane arts students blog