VCA celebrates 50 years while looking ahead to the future

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) is focusing its attention forward as it spends the remainder of the year celebrating its 50-year rich history as a highly-respected and creative educational institution here in Southbank.

Leading the celebrations and the launch of the VCA Director’s Dialogue Series, is the newly appointed director of VCA, Professor Emma Redding.

Speaking with Southbank News on the exciting and informative Dialogue Series, Professor Redding said the idea of “focusing forward” really stood out as the overriding theme of the four individual talks making up the series.

“The talks we are doing really pose important questions for us all to ponder on that can’t be easily answered, but we have to be asking these questions and listening to each other,” Professor Redding said.


“What we are trying to do is put ourselves out there, ask questions and make ourselves vulnerable, and I think we are being quite brave by putting ourselves behind some quite difficult themes.”


The first talk took place on September 13 and covered the theme of “arts for wellbeing and wellbeing for artists”, an area in which Professor Redding is highly trained having previously researched the arts for health and wellbeing.

At the beginning of the session, a number of renowned speakers were asked to talk on the topic without any further direction, and what came from it was an expansive session on caring for Country, the environment, and for self in order to, therefore, care for others.

The next talk on October 11 will discuss “celebrating intersectionality and inclusion in the arts”, followed by “creative technologies and intertwined innovation” on November 8, and “future forward: emerging artists now” on November 29.

“Having arrived at VCA, the way in which Indigenous knowledge is absolutely front and centre was really humbling to see and there is an unwavering commitment to have a diverse and multicultural arts organisation,” Professor Redding said.

“VCA has [also] always made quite a commitment in the faculty to invest in digital technology, as we know we are co-existing with technology. Coming out of the pandemic, where arts were put online, we learnt so much about the way art is being transformed and sold digitally.”

“Lastly, a difficult but exciting [talk] is about how to train an artist and what we should equip artists with as they are training and being educated with us, in a future that is so unknown and so fast-changing.”

Professor Redding has now been in the position for seven months after coming to the Southbank campus from the United Kingdom where she trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London as a contemporary dance practitioner.

Following her experience performing professionally in the UK, the United States and Asia, Professor Redding was then involved in dance science and did a Masters in sport science and a PhD in biological science.

This combination of training and studies has not only equipped Professor Redding to be VCA’s first ever performing arts director in the position, but to also realise that VCA is “absolutely up there as a world class arts school”.

To celebrate its prestige and dedication to the fine arts during the past 50 years, VCA is also having a tea party for the college’s alumni and donors on its official anniversary on November 30.

Anyone interested in attending the series and being a part of important forward-thinking discussions while celebrating VCA’s strong identity, can book tickets online.

Alternatively, VCA is also filming each series with plans to edit packages together to be shared widely. •

For more information:


Photo caption 1: VCA director Professor Emma Redding.

Photo caption 2: VCA founders.

Photo caption 3: Directors Dialogues HERO IMAGE: Spencer Harrison, Installation View, 2021. Image by Drew Echberg

Photo caption 4: Art and technology talk: StickMan / miniStickman, Stelarc, RMIT Gallery 2022

Photo caption 5: Arts for wellbeing talk: Motherland by Patricia Piccinini from “A Miracle Constantly Repeated”, Rising at Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia, 2021.

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