Former tutors of Castlemaine Continuing Education have voiced their disappointment and sadness at the decision of the organisation’s board of management to enter voluntary administration.
CCE closed its doors on January 15 after more than 30 years of operation, saying in a statement that “significant changes to the education sector as well as shifting community needs and preferences placed the organisation in an untenable financial situation”.
Ana Radovcich, co-ordinator of the popular Art Pathways program, said she was “really saddened”.
“I just felt CCE held a really special place within the community, and it was a really lovely place to work,” Ms Radovcich said.
Art Pathways sculpture tutor Tobias Richardson was shocked and surprised by the announcement. “I really loved my job,” Mr Richardson said.
Ms Radovcich and Mr Richardson spoke of the frustration of learning of the decision in January, both having begun preparing for their classes for the coming year.
They also talked about employment in the visual arts.
“I’m an educator and finding a job in a small town, teaching art… It’s hard to find a job,” Mr Richardson said.
Both are concerned about the impact the closure will have on their community.
Mr Richardson said the community was losing a unique resource.
“An arts community is not the sum of its artists and performers, it needs the organisations to support them,” he said.
Ms Radovcich said the art course was important for health and wellbeing, and opened pathways to other places, such as university.
They also shared a view that had a decision been made earlier, there was a chance the community and staff could have found a solution to save CCE.
But there is hope Arts Pathways at least will survive, with former students and staff looking for other avenues for delivery.
CCE was home to education programs in other fields and other initiatives, including Aboriginal catering company Murnong Mammas.
Administrator Andrew Hewitt, from Grant Thornton Australia, said that while a review into the financial affairs was ongoing, preliminary investigations suggested CCE fell into difficulty because it did not attract enough student enrolments to meet the projected numbers for which the Department of Education and Training had funded it.
He said it was believed CCE owed the government a debt in the range of $50,000 to $70,000, accumulated over three years.
Mr Hewitt expects creditors they will make a decision on CCE’s future towards the middle of the month. It is anticipated the organisation will be liquidated.