The Victorian College of the Arts has thrown an independent review on the institution’s future into chaos by inadvertently publishing an attack on its critics on a leaked website.
The vcam.org.au site, swiftly removed from the web following Crikey‘s enquiries this morning (but preserved for posterity here), “debunks” myths over the future of the institution and claims to counter the “hysteria, misinformation and untruthful statements surrounding the role of the former VCA”.
Under the headline “the whole story”, the VCA says “some clarifying facts are necessary and this website has been developed to provide the facts.”
It takes specific aim against negative media coverage surrounding the adoption of the controversial Melbourne Model and includes a section with links to newspaper opinion pieces supporting the views of VCA management.
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“Media reports have suggested the University of Melbourne is attempting to ‘dissolve the VCA’ by ‘ramming its controversial Melbourne Model down the VCA throat’ having ‘slashed’ its funding.
“The media reports that include these ‘statements’ are all incorrect,” it says.
Other sections contains gaps and omissions where figures and funding amounts are waiting to be inserted into arguments. Numerous references to the university’s discussion paper, released just two weeks ago, suggest the text was penned very recently.
The university distanced itself from the website this morning, issuing the following statement:
The university website is a work-in-progress by an external web designer. The fact that it appeared as a live site was an error on the part of the web designer.
The content of the working site had not been approved by anyone in the University or the Faculty of the VCA and Music.
Crikey asked spokesperson for the university, Christina Buckridge, which VCA staff member had penned the website.
“I truthfully do not know – and as the project had died before I even knew about it – it serves no purpose to ask.”
“It doesn’t matter now. It will never see the light of day”.
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While the author is unknown, many of the website statements mirror language Performing Arts Head Kristy Edmunds had been using up until the release of the “Defining the Future” discussion paper two weeks ago and last week’s review chaired by former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski.
In her only media interview on the subject, Ms Edmunds referred to “hysteria” surrounding changes to practical teaching under the controversial Melbourne Model.
Last week, Dr Switkowski promised that his review would remain “independent” and would consider the views of the VCA’s critics, who have launched a campaign to “save” the institution.
”I can absolutely guarantee that I have not been put in this position to tell the university what it wants to hear,” he said.
On Tuesday the Victorian Parliament was presented with a 13,564-strong petition calling on the Brumby Government not to change the practical training courses at the VCA and to ensure that funding levels are maintained, however it is yet to be formally tabled.
Victorian opposition arts spokesperson Heidi Victoria said Arts Minister Lynne Kosky had “betrayed” the VCA by failing to present the petition to parliament.