DESPITE eliminating funding for fine arts courses – on the pretext that they don’t lead to jobs – the NSW government has rationed access to arts training in what could be a jobs boom area.
A confidential document by TAFE NSW’s strategy unit forecasts almost 6000 new jobs over five years for “program or project administrators”. They include administrators in galleries, museums, theatres and community centres as well as a range of businesses.
The forecast, by modelling specialists Access Economics, is about four times the growth predicted for miners, plumbers and IT support engineers. It puts project administration in the same league as some of the state’s highest growth occupations including nursing support workers and business administration managers.
Yet while the government says it prioritises funding to the areas of highest employment growth, it is only offering arts administration training online or at commercial fees.
In 2013 the relevant course – the certificate III in arts administration – will only be available as a fully subsidised course through Western Connect, TAFE’s online service in western NSW.
It will also be offered at a partially subsidised rate at St George College, in southern Sydney, and as a commercial online program at Coffs Harbour.
A NSW Education Department spokesman said that while there was projected employment growth in arts administration; demand for training was “dispersed”.
He said only 11 training providers in Australia were approved to teach the certificate III in arts administration, including three TAFE NSW institutes.
Deborah Stone, of Melbourne-based arts industry recruiter and observer artsHUB, said administrators were in demand. “That would be one of our most common job descriptors,” she said.
But Ms Stone said the term was used broadly and could range from bookkeepers and marketers to library administrators or people who operated local councils’ PA systems. “It might be somebody who schmoozes the donors,” she said.
The TAFE Strategy document, a profile of the training needs of various industries in 2012, doesn’t distinguish between project administrators working in the arts and those in business services.
NSW activists say data simply doesn’t exist to corroborate the state government’s claims of low job demand in the arts.
Last year NSW said it would only provide training in areas of vocational demand. But while it plans to spend this year identifying those areas, it has already cut funding for fine arts courses.
Courses in areas such as visual arts, ceramics and sculpture are now only available at full commercial rates.
The confidential TAFE document says the growing Australian economy and a “reasonable” rate of recent job growth “should translate into higher discretionary spending, with a resultant lift in spending on the fine arts”.
While this consumer spending rebound may be “subdued”, the document also notes that technological change and the National Broadband Network are making art accessible to everyday Australians. “These changes may actually encourage more people to visit exhibitions,” it says.
The document recommends “some growth” in the delivery of TAFE fine arts training.