The Victorian College of the Arts was founded in 1972 to provide education and training in all the visual and performing arts within the one institution. It has remained unique in Australia in that charter. Since 2009, however, it has made headline news as a training institute in crisis, a situation fed by government intervention, public commentary and disputes with the University of Melbourne which now administers it. What financial pressures began has now become a deeper struggle about the nature of arts training in the 21st century.
This period of crisis, writes Murphet, brought to the school a new vitality and purpose, and raised questions that go way beyond the VCA case alone. As the college begins its restoration, he presents the case for repositioning the VCA as a centre of artistic invention, shifting the debate from the maintenance of past traditions to the creation of a new paradigm in arts training for a world in which instability has become the norm.