Spectacular investments at VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium Open Day

The history of the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium is well known, but a $200 million investment means its future is even more exciting – especially for potential students.
Spectacular investments at VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium Open Day

Head of Drawing and Printmaking Mark Dustin with Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art) students in the new VCA Print Workshop. Photography: Giulia McGauran. Image supplied.

Brand new, state-of-the-art facilities await visitors at this year’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Open Day on 19 August.


The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Melbourne’s Southbank Campus is already home to students and staff across a range of disciplines, including Music Therapy, Jazz and Improvisation, Interactive Composition, Visual Arts, Film and Television, Dance, Theatre, Music Theatre, Production and Design. They’ll soon be joined by the majority of their peers from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music who are currently based at the University’s Parkville Campus.

‘The VCA programs have been going for 46 years, and then the Conservatorium program has been going on up at the University for close to 120 years, and what we’re doing is putting them into a facility where all of the arts will be on the one spot,’ said Barry Conyngham AM, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

While the new Conservatorium won’t open until 2019, potential students who visit the University of Melbourne’s Southbank Campus for Open Day this month will be able to explore another new facility at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music: the recently redeveloped The Stables in the heart of the city’s Arts Precinct.

Conyngham calls the redevelopment of the former Victoria Police Mounted Branch stables –now a new visual arts wing with 170 studios and flexible exhibition spaces, and a 260-seat multipurpose arts wing for live performance, the Martyn Myer Arena – a ‘spectacular’ addition to the Southbank Campus.

VCA Acting Company 2018 and Production students’ performance of Peter Pan. Photography: Drew Echberg. Image supplied. 

Together with the soon to be completed Conservatorium – The Ian Potter Southbank Centre – a new Library and the redevelopment of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Art and Cultural Development, it represents ‘nearly $200 million of new facilities for our students for the future,’ Conyngham said.

The impending Open Day is not just chance a chance to view these new and existing facilities – it’s also a chance to gain valuable insights into the ins and outs of life as a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

‘One of the things that I hope potential students do when they talk to the staff here, and even the other students, is learn what will be expected of them. A lot of young people only see the bright lights and all of that sort of thing, and so when they come here [for Open Day] hopefully they’ll hear a few words about how to get the most out of the course, and what life as a student here is really like,’ said Conyngham.     

He stressed the competitive nature of creative arts courses across Australia, noting that the VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium only take the best.

‘We get a lot of demand, and so we really try to find the best people – and it’s not just their ability, which is pretty important, but it’s about whether they’re ready for our kind of program, which is pretty high level, a pretty mature program,’ he said.

Prospective students attending the Open Day will have the opportunity to see performances and demonstrations, visit existing students at work in their studios – including the Stables and the new Production Design studios – and gain expert advice from the VCA and Conservatorium staff, many of whom are also professional artists in their own right.

‘A lot of the people doing the teaching in our programs are also practicing artists, whether they’re playing in the Melbourne Symphony or painters having exhibitions or people making movies,’ Conyngham said.  

‘So there will be plenty to see, and plenty of people to talk to about whether you’re ready and whether you’re able to come to us next year.’

The University of Melbourne’s Open Day will be held on 19 August 2018. Visit openday.unimelb.edu.au for details.