Nicholas Lam has ceased their term as VCA Campus Coordinator effective from 10/04/2018, creating a casual vacancy. An unscheduled meeting of the VCA Committee has been called for 4pm, the 24th of May to consider filling the casual vacancy. The meeting will be held in the Dr. Philip Law Meeting Room, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Southbank Campus.

All students that currently students at the Victorian College of the Arts Campus are eligible to nominate for the position as outlined by the UMSU constitution and may do so by emailing the General Secretary at When nominating, please let us know if you will be in attendance, or if in lieu of this, sending in a written statement.

The aims and objectives of the department are:

a) to provide a suitable cultural and social climate on campus and create opportunities for, and encourage, the development of social interaction between Students.

b) to provide for, protect and develop the interests of Students with regard to financial, social, educational, professional and welfare matters and encourage interest groups and clubs and societies on campus.

c) to represent Students’ interests in any matters as deemed necessary or desirable by the Department.

d) to provide, or ensure the provision of, facilities and services for the academic support, professional education, refreshment, entertainment, recreation and convenience of Students.

e) to occupy and operate premises, which shall be a common meeting place and social centre for Students.

f) to assume other such responsibilities and organise and direct such activities as may be deemed appropriate for giving expression to the interests of the Department, or for carrying out any of the objects aforesaid.

g) to be represented within UMSU and to cooperate with the Departments of UMSU and contribute to the specified aims and objectives of UMSU.

h) to afford a recognised means of communication between students and the authorities of the campus, University, the community at large and other organisations of students.

When selecting a student to fill the vacancy, the Committee must consider the following criteria:

  • Previous experience
  • Involvement in UMSU, department, collective, committee, Students’ Council or any body thereof
  • Previous or current holding of an Officer position in UMSU
  • Proven honesty and integrity
  • Proven commitment to the aims and objectives of UMSU (as outlined in our constitution)

For further details or queries, please contact the General Secretary at

Words by Leannza Chia 


UPDATE (7/5): The Victorian government has announced it will allocate $8.5 million to the redevelopment. The announcement comes as part of the government’s budget and will be distributed in 2016-2017.


A $42.5 million renovation project will create a visual arts wing for university students and the public. The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) will take over the Victorian Police Mounted Branch stables behind it.

The project is supported by the Victorian government, in an initiative to integrate the campus into the wider community.

Dean of the Faculty for the VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) Professor Barry Conyngham said the idea to have the stables transferred to the VCA has existed for 30 to 40 years.

“The faculty of the VCA and MCM has been planning and advocating strongly for this,” Professor Conyngham said.

While the project is the responsibility of the Vice-Chancellor and the University Council, Professor Conyngham will also give input.

“The faculty’s teaching needs, the desire to invite the public on to the Southbank Campus, and the preservation of the character and historical status of the buildings will all be part of the conversion of the stables to a VCA facility,” he explained.

In a press release, the university said the renovations would form a new entry point to the Southbank campus and “create public performance, event and exhibition spaces across the campus and surrounding streets, as well as a series of laneways, public thoroughfares and gardens”.

While VCA Campus Co-ordinator James Crafti welcomed the increase of space at VCA, he believed that the project does not truly address major concerns for VCA students, citing underpaid staff as a worry.

“The major issue students face is staff not being paid enough to give students proper feedback on their artwork and professional staff being overworked,” he said. “Great new buildings, without staff, achieve nothing.”

The project is expected to finish by 2016.

Words by Ella Shi

Technopia Tours curator Kim Donaldson and VCA student Caitlin Patane meet me wearing bright orange jumpsuits. The colour, they tell me, is an ode to the urban. Their particular shade—International Orange—represents the colour of the city, and it demands attention and respect. “I see it on the uniforms of construction workers, Metro employees, traffic cones, and street signs,” the enthusiastic Patane tells me. It’s a colour that is diverse in its context, but shares in the role of keeping people safe and steering them in the right direction.

The destination, in this case, is George Paton Gallery. Within this space, Donaldson says her team are literally “art workers making art works.”

Technopia Tours is a collaborative project featuring the work of five VCA students—Raymond Carter, Aya Hamamoto, Dot Kett, En-En See, and Patane—who each signed up without any knowledge of what was in store. “A little bit like a blind date,” Donaldson laughs. Donaldson is curating this exhibition for her PhD and taking on an experimental approach. “I’m working with each artist individually, so the end result is still unknown. In a way, I’m exploring the roles of curator and artist and how they’re different but still similar.”

Though the full scope of the exhibition is only to be realised at the last minute, it promises to include a diverse range of art forms, including performance, sculpture, paintings, prints, and installations. It’s decidedly broad, but Donaldson hopes the exhibition has something to satisfy everyone. “It’s about breaking down boundaries of what is or isn’t art, and bringing the everyday urban landscape into a gallery setting,” Donaldson says. “Like saying language is only English, art is a visual language and has many forms,” Patane adds.

As the name suggests, the exhibition runs like a tour and parallels the experience of a tourist faced with the unknown. “Art galleries can often seem intimidating,” Patane explains. “The aim of Technopia Tours is to create a welcome art experience for people that might not feel welcome in other art spaces.” This is perhaps particularly relevant to Parkville student unacquainted with the art world. Like a good tour guide, the exhibition doesn’t wave flags at people or tell visitors how to find the good stuff. Instead it nudges patrons in the right direction so that they may discover the art for themselves.

The exhibition has previously travelled throughout Venice, London, and Singapore, and most recently transformed Melbourne’s own Edinburgh Gardens.

Technopia Tours runs from the 8 – 17 April at the George Paton Gallery, Second floor Union House.

“Here [in the United States], you can always do more, push harder, be better. Dare I say it, but ‘tall poppy syndrome’ really prevents that back home.”

Is anybody out there? Julia Friend investigates renewed Australian interest in gaining American success.
Illustrations by Lynley Eavis

Living as an expatriate artist in the United States sounds irresistible. The success stories from time abroad are always so alluring. The Australian accent seems to lend itself to party invites, networking opportunities, and a lifestyle you could only imagine here in little old Australia. Our fascination with honing our craft in America is stronger than ever. No one wants to be a part of the little creative town of Australia that could – at least not initially.

Even though Melbourne is a UNESCO “City of Literature”, and home to some of the most renowned art galleries in the world, we remain uncertain of our validity as a cultural hub. Sam Twyford-Moore, a Melbourne-based writer, suggested in his 2011 piece ‘Letter from Australia’ that Australians still look towards the US for “cultural confirmation.” He cites writers such as Geraldine Brooks, Peter Carey and Nam Le as examples of the felt necessity “for writers to travel to other centres to pursue greater opportunities.”

“There is just such a dearth of opportunity in Australia. You can excel, to a point, and then there’s a cut off,” says Kat George, a freelance writer for Thought Catalog, VH1 and Vice“I would have been more afraid of putting myself out there in Melbourne, because there really isn’t the culture of hustle or self-promotion there that exists here.”

Kat moved to New York City in 2010, and now calls Brooklyn home. Currently working on a book proposal and writing a script, Kat is constantly pushed by people’s honest and earnest ambition that she believes is much more commonplace in the US. “Here [in the United States], you can always do more, push harder, be better. Dare I say it, but ‘tall poppy syndrome’ really prevents that back home,” she says. “If you fail at something, there’s so much else going on that you can just dust yourself off and try again.”


When asked if the US offers more contacts and opportunities for the aspiring writer, Kat answers definitively. “Yes, one thousand billion million per cent. I think the sheer propelling force of New York gives you a motivation you don’t have elsewhere. Everyone here is doing something amazing, and everyone works so damn hard.”

We have world-class art schools on our doorstep, but despite the huge expense of studying a postgraduate degree internationally, many artists still value a Master of Fine Arts from an overseas institution more than one you could obtain here. And this is at great financial disadvantage: the MFA at Victorian College of the Arts is currently just over $26,000 per year, whereas the same course at Columbia University in New York is double that. This price doesn’t include the exorbitant living expenses demanded by cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, the payoff can be much more than just a piece of paper with a US college seal on it. Twyford-Moore suggests that when artists board their flight to America, they immediately gain more attention, as “we are looking not necessarily to fine an audience there, but to do work which impresses people here.”

“Los Angeles is a much bigger pond and you have to start from the beginning,” says Hannah Moore, a returned expatriate filmmaker who, lamenting the lack of sketch comedy opportunities in Australia, moved off to Los Angeles in early 2012.

Hannah had originally planned for a three-month trip to the US to have “one last crack at acting,” but ended up living in Los Angeles for nine months to attend The Groundlings School, a sketch comedy troupe boasting the likes of Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon as alumni. Though it is a much wider playing field, Hannah found “a willingness to help people within the industry in LA that just doesn’t exist in the same way in Australia.”


“It’s incredibly competitive [in Australia], because it’s a small pond. People don’t want to share their contacts because that would increase someone else’s prospects and potentially decrease their own,” says Hannah. Where Australians will compete for what Twyford-Moore suggests is “very limited space, extremely limited resources, and minute audiences”, Kat believes “everything feels limitless” in the United States.

Despite our growing legitimacy as a centre of arts and culture, we still have an inability to get past the notion of “making it” in America. There is success, and then there is US success. We’re focused on starting what Twyford-Moore believes is “the little heat you burn in the US” which “burns hotter back home.” Even Lara Bingle spent her reality show discussing, plotting, and finally, failing to make it in America. We are less inclined to stick around the little town that could, and more inclined to pay the US dollar to get our clout.

Follow Julia Friend at @juliamfriend