About Australia

National cultural training organisations

Australia has a reputation for cultural and artistic energy and innovation. The Australian Government recognises the importance of supporting this spirit in the country’s new and emerging artists.

The Australian higher education sector, which is funded primarily by the Australian Government, produces arts graduates through several specialist arts institutions and arts courses. In 2006 there were 38 universities and other tertiary institutions that attracted 9676 enrolments to 492 courses offered in the performing arts.

As part of its commitment to the arts, the government provides financial assistance to national centres of excellence that are pre-eminent in their artistic fields, including several national performing arts training institutions. These organisations, outlined below, attract the best teachers and students and strive for international recognition for the talented professionals they develop.

Australian Ballet School

Located in Melbourne, the Australian Ballet School provides full-time training of the highest standard for young people seeking a career in the classical dance profession. Students receive an education in all forms of dance, as well as performance psychology, drama, notation, theatre studies, dance history, anatomy and music.

Established in 1964, the Australian Ballet School has built an international reputation for the calibre of the dancers, choreographers, teachers and directors it produces. Graduates include Ross Stretton, Graeme Murphy, Meryl Tankard and Paul Mercurio. Within six months of graduation, 90 per cent of the school’s students find full-time employment in companies throughout Australia and the world.

Australian Film, Television and Radio School

The Australian Film, Television and Radio School is the national centre of excellence in professional education and training for the Australian film, broadcast and digital media production industries.

The school has a remarkable record of success. Its graduates and students have won more than 400 awards, including the Cannes Palme d’Or, Camera d’Or, two Palme d’Or for Best Short Film, two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, an Academy Award for Best Screenplay (from six nominations), 22 Australian Film Institute Awards and 10 Best Short Fiction Awards at the Sydney Film Festival.

Australian National Academy of Music

Located in Melbourne, the Australian National Academy of Music provides young musicians aspiring to national and international careers, particularly as solo artists, with performance training at the highest level. It works with leading Australian and international soloists and chamber musicians in a demanding schedule of individual lessons, group workshops, performances and constant practice.

Australian Youth Orchestra

Located in Sydney, the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) has a long history of training exceptionally gifted and dedicated young musicians from their early secondary years up to their early twenties, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary. AYO provides professional leadership for young Australian musicians, and expands and extends their music training and orchestral and ensemble experience through national and international programs and performance of the highest standard. Some of the finest musicians now performing with professional orchestras in Australia and elsewhere in the world have been a part of an AYO ensemble. AYO runs the annual National Music Camp and the Camerata Australia chamber orchestra. In 2007, AYO’s international tour included performances in Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Paris.

Flying Fruit Fly Circus

Located in Albury-Wodonga on the Victoria–New South Wales border, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus is Australia’s only full‑time circus training institution for primary and secondary school students. Since its foundation in 1979, the circus has established itself as one of the world’s premier youth performing arts companies. Around 80 young artists train full-time and perform at the circus, with instruction given by some of the foremost exponents of circus art. Ranging in age from eight to 18 years, the student performers have travelled to places such as Canada, China, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association

The National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) delivers traditional and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance training to young Indigenous people. The world-renowned Bangarra Dance Theatre evolved out of NAISDA, and six of the 12 dancers currently in residence at Bangarra are NAISDA graduates. Since its inception in 1975, NAISDA has prepared students for careers in dance, theatre and music. Leading graduates include dancer and choreographer Stephen Page and singer Christine Anu. In October 2006, NAISDA moved to Mt Penang Parklands, near Gosford on the New South Wales central coast.

National Institute of Circus Arts

Located in Melbourne, the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) was established in 2001. NICA provides vocational training in circus and circus-related activities. NICA students are selected through rigorous national auditions and undertake a three-year full‑time course covering circus studies, theatre studies, business studies and performance studies. After graduating, students are ready to seek employment as a member of a circus or physical theatre company, or to create their own project.

National Institute of Dramatic Art

Founded in Sydney in 1958, Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) trains a select group of talented young people every year to work in the entertainment industry. It provides training for actors, stage managers, lighting and sound designers, set and costume designers, scenery, costume and properties makers, directors, voice and movement teachers, production managers and writers. Admission to NIDA is very competitive, with approximately 60 students admitted each year to full-time courses from over 1000 applicants. Graduates of NIDA who have enjoyed international success include Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Mel Gibson, Baz Luhrmann, Jacqueline McKenzie and Hugo Weaving.

Further information

last updated March 2008