DOZENS of students, staff and supporters of Fine Arts gathered in Belmore Park on Wednesday to rally against the recent announcement of drastic cuts to fine arts courses.
Courses such as sculpture, visual arts and ceramics will only be offered on a fee-for-service basis from 2013, after the decision to withdraw funding from arts courses.
More than 400 Goulburn and Moss Vale enrolled students will be without courses and over 800 TAFE staff have been made redundant state-wide due to the cuts.
Artist and part-time teacher at Goulburn TAFE, Marianne Courtenay, told the Post the concern wasn’t the budget cut, but that Fine Arts across the board has been given the chop.
“Our concern particularly is that it’s not just a cut but that they have removed all offerings everywhere in the state. It’s no longer a part of public education, that’s the key issue,” she said.
Despite frequent protest action, Ms Courtenay said the response from politicians has been underwhelming.
“Replies to letters have been that the state has to pull in its belt, which we understand, although it’s getting harder to believe that’s the only reason behind this when we have the state auditor general telling us we are actually not in debt and actually have a $1 billion surplus.
“The fact that they are still pulling the line that these cuts can’t even be reduced would suggest that this is policy by stealth.
“TAFE fine arts has survived the depression and World War Two… By every measure, despite the global financial crisis, this community is better off, Australia is better off than it’s ever been before and we are still experiencing this sort of treatment.”
The small contingent held the rally in Belmore Park as they were unable to travel to Sydney to participate in the large-scale protest held at Parliament house.
Over 400 student protesters gathered in Sydney on Wednesday to present a petition containing 23,000 signatures, demanding Barry O’Farrell reverse the increases that will lift fine arts course fees from around $1500 a year to $12,500.
Protests about state government cuts continue on Sunday with a Community Day of Action focused on the education sector.
It follows a Goulburn and Districts Union assembly meeting last week. Some 15 unions were represented at the Workers Club function, airing concerns over job cuts, ‘casualisation of the workforce’ and potential privatisation of health service catering and cleaning.
The gathering decided on a series of rolling actions and that unions should meet on a regular basis to formulate a strategy.
Goulburn MP Pru Goward has defended the cuts, saying they are necessary to get the state back on track. She recently attributed the $1bn surplus to forward payments by the Commonwealth.