Tuesday, October 03, 2006

With Friends Like These

Things are bad.

Today mayhem went out and bought 3 CD's - by The Smiths, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash.

Getting the following in my email inbox did not improve my mood.


Friends of the National Art School 3 October 2006

Just when we had become used to the utter distain with which FONAS is treated by the NSW State Government (all the emails from FONAS to Ms Tebbutt’s, Minister for Education and Training, office being blocked is just one example) when yesterday’s article in The Australian newspaper proved that we can still be shocked by their tactics. What followed was 24 hours of non-stop phone calls from concerned supporters until we were able to get verbal confirmation from the minister’s spokesperson who claimed that they had been ‘misquoted’.
The article concerned, written by Imre Salusinszky, quotes Ms Tebbutts spokesperson confirming that the merger between NAS and COFA will proceed and that the minister would ‘try and preserve the school’s artistic philosophy’. Follow the link Schools of art in unlikely merger
The FONAS committee immediately ratified that such a hostile take-over of the National Art School through dubious and questionable processes will not deter us from continuing our campaign to save the school.
Even though there appears to me no substance to the quote, legitimate questions demand to be answered regarding this merger. For example, the proposal that COFA originally submitted never fulfilled the criteria set out in the original tender applications procedure. If the criteria has changed then surely other universities should be given another opportunity to apply, otherwise it is COFA rather than Department of Education and Training (DET) who is setting the agenda, with DET adopting the role of mere facilitator.
We would also like to know how Ian Howard (COFA Dean) felt able to inform the staff only last week (at the COFA Art Teachers Drawing Conference) that whilst remaining ‘circumspect’, an announcement regarding the expansion of COFA to include the National Art School in the creation of a very “exciting new art school” was imminent? He also stated that the negotiations with DET were ‘going very well indeed’.
So where to from here? Certainly we are full-steam ahead in our support for Angus Wood (see attached article, Printmaker to run against NSW Minister) who will stand as an Independent candidate against Carmel Tebbutt in the State election in March 2007.
We will continue using every means available to ensure that the correct decision is made – and we need your help to do this.
We would ask each and every one of you to do what you can to save the National Art School . Please write to newspapers, phone radio stations, talk to anybody and everybody who might be able to influence the decision. Forward this email onto all your contacts. Every little bit helps.
The unexpected support that the Liberal Party has extended reflects poorly on the Iemma Labour Government and the way it views art and art education in this State. Echoing the voices of over 400 supporters outside Parliament House on 20 September 06, ‘Shame Iemma shame’.
We will keep you updated on news as it happens and would ask you all to do the same. Let us know what you are doing. Let us know what you would like us to do.
In the meantime, hold firm and do not be dissuaded from our chartered course. It is the duty of governments, as the elected servants of its people, to listen to its electorate. Democracy must prevail.

Kind regards,
Bernadette Mansfield
FONAS President

Mayhem has posted previously about my links to NAS - I'm an alumni with many many fond memories and loyalties - but I also DON"T HATE COFA. I really admire COFA's curent drawing research program and loved the last chinese whispers show.so I got really depressed at the in the SMH
Johnny Mac article/review

- which was facile and partisan and was more appropriate to an NAS funclub chatsite than a prominent broadshet newspaper.

Ideally I'd like to see Sydney retain the 7 government funded tertiary art schools it has (SCA, COFA, UWS, NAS, Meadowbank TAFE, Hornsby TAFE ,st. George TAFE)without any more cutbacks. but that's just me.

I'm concerned how drawing and blanket terms like 'traditional skills' are getting used by defenders of the NAS. I guess I'll save that concern for the PhD chapter I should be finishing this month - but politically I think it makes the NAS look like colonial outpost of the British Royal Academy of Art - which it isn't and never has been - and it underlines a rather seamier connection that makes me shudder.

Naturally NAS defenders are tyring to garner support from whatever pollies they can given the imminence of a state election in 2007, but the letters of support from Peter Debnam make my stomach churn. A comment in a story from 'The Australian'
also got me feeling icky. I think it was the bit about "an unlikely alliance between the elements of the fine arts community in NSW and the Liberal Party".

and mayhem wants to scream 'get fucking real'.

any punter can wonder just how many blond-helmet haired suburban matriarchs are there splashing away in the old gaol - but you can make an easy estimate from the population of four wheel drives parked around Forbes & Burton Streets. Despite being the cheapest art school in sydney (another reason why the State government should preserve it) - the NAS student population is the whitest, straightest and most affluent of any of them. Mayhem does NOT believe in the inherent attraction of certain materials or techniques to the beige, chattering or transgressive classes.

mayhem holds firm to the perversly polymorphous possibilities of paint, light, plaster, clay, metal, ink, charcoal, lenses, fabric, paper, mice and whatever oozing masses one can get ones bits on - and to the imagination itself.

also - the proximity of NAS and COFA to those shaded lanes of the woollahra horror vales of wall based investment displays - should put paid to any notions of art being separate or an anathema to money and its pursuit. it ain't.

anwya - I'll end this gloomy post - now - and will soon put up more fun exciting news about


stay tuned


Anonymous said...

I saw the lousy Primavera today and it was lousy. So was that drawing prize thing at the AGNES, but Matin Sharp's and Peter Whatsit's were nice to look at. Couldn't face vaniladavila because mannerist art is s'posed to be bad and evil. Someone told me that.

El Fluff said...

Hey, you talk about yourself at the third person, now? :0)

I'm probalby going to perform during the first week of next term, in a bedding piece called 'Sleeping With The Ennemi', to be confirmed very, very soon. It should be a bit funny and lay down a few good questions....

à suivre.

not-sure-yet said...

There are actually 8 art schools, NADC-Nepean Art and Design centre, Nepean TAFE. It is just accross the road from UWS, many of its graduates continued their art studies at UWS - making for a very healthy WS based art education. this is another sad fact, that if UWS goes the culture of young WS artists will be further dispersed due to the fact that TAFE students wishing to continue their studies will be heading for the city.