EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY has described as "wrong and misguided" accusations that it has mismanaged the WA Performing Arts Academy.
ECU Executive Dean, Robyn Quin, says former director Geoff Gibbs is ill-informed in claiming ECU is bleeding WAAPA dry (Voice, November 15, 2003).
Dr Gibbs said when he left the academy in 1998 it was $100,000 in the black. But now it is $30,000 in the red and the academy had suffered cuts to courses and a freeze on staff appointments.
"The truth is exactly the opposite," Dr Quinn told the Voice. "His information and recollections are out-of-date and lack any foundation in fact."
She says the academy has been running a deficit budget for years and is in fact propped up by ECU.
"The deficit is not due to poor management at all. Simply, labour costs have risen and neither the State nor Federal Governments' funding has matched the rise. ECU has, and continues to meet, all Academy debts.
"The Academy budget has increased every year in dollar terms but costs have exceeded increases. There have been no "cuts" in the Academy's budget."
Professor Quin said resignations had been replaced in broadcasting and production. An acting position had not been filled because "we were still wearing the costs of the termination of instigated by a former acting director of WAAPA" and a classical music staffer was not replaced because "the enrolment does not justify it".
"Nobody has lost their job through cost cutting," she insisted.
But Dr Gibbs has won support from Boris Radmilovich, a former lecturer, and Peter Kingston, a former head of acting at the academy, for speaking out.
Mr Kingston said he spent six months, "applying and reapplying" for his job in 2002. Professor Quin's admission that his job was not permanently filled because of costs unrelated to his department "proves what I have long suspected... I was led on a merry dance."
Now acting artistic director with Black Swan Theatre, he is scathing of ECU's management, and describes its treatment of the academy as "scandalous". ECU placed "no value in WAAPA's professional theatre practitioners, who are the backbone of its courses," he said. "The quality of WAAPA's actor training program on which the institution's reputation was largely established has been undermined, staff numbers cut and the remaining lecturers demoralised and unsupported."