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Flinders University drama review sparks alarm

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Flinders University says it plans to “reposition” its drama offerings with an increase in “contemporary and innovative topics”, but a recent review has sparked alarm among students and others who fear the highly regarded Drama Centre and Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) will be phased out.

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The independent review includes a raft of recommendations for changes to the drama program, including that “an integrated Drama brand be established” and that the term “Drama Centre” be discontinued as it is “no longer serviceable in the context of the reorganisation of Drama”.

A temporary pause in the Bachelor of Creative Arts (BCA) Drama intake for 2021 has further fuelled concern, with a change.org petition launched this week urging: “Save Adelaide’s arts community! Save Flinders Drama!”

The petition, which had been signed by more than 100 people by 11am today, claims the university “has made the devastating decision to discontinue and phase out the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) aka The Drama Centre…. A new unspecialised course will be replacing the DC, one that is incomparable, providing nowhere near the right training or classes that are required to become a trained professional”.

Students and members of the arts sector are also taking to social media to share their concerns.

 


However, Flinders University told InDaily that drama was not closing, no decision had yet been made on the recommendations, and that further consultation with the community was planned to determine which elements would be accepted.

Acting vice-president and executive dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Professor Peter Monteath said in a statement that a “revitalised vision” for drama at Flinders would be crafted from the review.

He said the temporary pause in the BCA drama intake for 2021 would “create space” for the course to be redesigned.

“In addition to traditional pursuits in areas such as acting and production, we’re seeking to introduce specialities  in contemporary and emerging fields, such as digital development, motion capture, and voice acting for games,” Monteath said.

“There are elements we want to retain but in a different form – and drama is one of those. We will continue our commitment to our existing student cohort, but will pause the intake for 2021 to enable our new design to be determined and applied fresh in 2022.”

Monteath said there had been “considerable and prolonged disruption across the dramatic arts”, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating new challenges and underscoring the need for graduates to have a wide suite of skills so they could navigate the “fast-changing creative landscape and achieve their ambition and their contribution”.

He added that the university was seeking to “amplify a range of career applications such as performance making, mainstage theatre, television production, drama teaching, digital and interactive performances, and cross-discipline and collaboratively devised pieces”.

The Flinders Drama Centre is highly regarded in the performing arts sector, with former graduates including Adelaide Festival Centre chief executive and artistic director Douglas Gautier, former State Theatre Company SA artistic director Geordie Brookman, and actors Noni Hazlehurst and Xavier Samuel.

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