Monash University theatre students slam the Dean

Students at Monash University today slammed the decision by Professor Sharon Pickering, Dean of Arts, to close Monash’s Centre for Theatre and Performance (CTP) without consultation with affected students.

Monash has decided to amalgamate its highly respected Centre for Theatre and Performance into the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, and offer multiple redundancies to Monash academics. Despite this amalgamation, theatre will no longer be available as a major at Monash University in 2021.

CTP students were not consulted about the change, and attempts to meet with Dean of Arts Professor Sharon Pickering have been rebuffed. The University has also neglected to directly inform affected students of the University’s plans.

Speaking on behalf of students studying in the Centre for Theatre and Performance, Monash student Ryan Hamilton said:

We are shocked by the callousness and shamelessness that Professor Sharon Pickering has shown towards the performing arts with these targeted cuts, and her intentional exclusion of CTP students from the University’s consultation process.

Professor Sharon Pickering’s targeted attack upon the CTP erodes the foundations of a strong Arts education, putting Monash behind other world-leading Universities. This attack is a shameful excuse for leadership at a time when we need conscientious and unifying leaders more than ever.

The students have renewed their call for Monash to reverse the decision and to save the major in Theatre and Performance, and to protect Monash’s world-leading Centre for Theatre and Performance.

Monash University has justified the decision by pointing to low enrolments in Theatre and reductions in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But students studying the course say enrolments are healthy and point out that Monash has refused to publicly release enrolment data.

To call Monash’s changes to its proposal a win is offensive. We therefore call on Professor Sharon Pickering to meet with us in a public forum to discuss these changes. We demand the University protect the major and commit to its future, and we demand the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance be renamed the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Theatre and Performance.

We want to question Professor Pickering on how these cuts will affect the remainder of our education, the study of the Arts at Monash University, and of most concern, the impact on the future of Australian culture and storytelling.

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Header image: CTP students perform My Brilliant Career at the Alexander Theatre, 2019. Photo by John Lloyd Fillingham.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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