NSW Government to no longer fund TAFE fine arts courses

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Thursday 13 September 2012.

The NSW Government announced today that it would no longer continue to fund fine arts courses in TAFE from January 1, 2013 as there are no job prospects for art students and there are skill shortages in other areas.

4000 art students will be impacted. Many of these students use the TAFE system to go onto further study, others get work in the arts sector and still others practice as artists.

Many more apply their design skills, conceptual skills and skills as creators in media and industry, even in management.

Fine Arts are a part of the creative industries, which are not only cultural industries. They also drive innovation and add value to commercialization, distribution, marketing and design in all sectors of the economy. Creative skills are applied in the workplace with a strong degree of commercial focus, optimizing commercial output and growing creative input. They are part of the emerging services economy and therefore part of Australia’s future.

Australia’s challenge is to integrate cultural production into the economic landscape. The creative industries are enablers of creative networks and spaces and of new business models. They contribute 2.8% of gross GDP (more than agriculture; communications; and electricity, gas and water supply). The visual arts, design and architecture makes up over 11% of the creative industries and have been growing in terms of employment opportunity. (See the Centre for International Economics, Creative Industries Economic Analysis June 2009).

This makes the decision of the NSW Government to no longer to fund fine arts degrees in TAFE particularly short sighted.

Likely outcomes will be:

The possible closure of fine arts in TAFE. The TAFE art schools are not in a position to immediately switch to running commercial operations – in Victoria the cost of a two-year diploma ranged from $13,000 to $26,000 when these changes were implemented (this is because each art school cannot set its own prices but must help pay for overall TAFE infrastructure). Art in TAFE quickly became a thing of the past, leaving individuals to fund their own art education. Universities or private colleges will become the only way to gain an education in Fine Arts, thus reducing the capacity of TAFE to develop an educational community that could be “the leading provider of tertiary education.” (NSW TAFE’S Strategic Vision 2011-2013) TAFE students are drawn from school leavers who may not have access to university, due to poor performance and disadvantage, from refugees and migrants without English language skills and from mature aged people that can only do art education part time. These people are unlikely to be able to fund an Arts Education in NSW in the future (nor indeed in Victoria and Queensland with their cuts). This may impact on the ability of many to participate in the creative industries, and in the community generally.