The gestation period for the national arts curriculum has begun. Conception occurred as a consequence of liaison between industry and government, and birth is expected about mid 1993. The future of arts education in Australian schools will be affected significantly, one way or the other, by the arrival of this document. Given its parentage, and motivation for conception in the first place, there are some real concerns about the potential value of such a framework for the well-being of school arts education. This paper examines the political context which gave rise to the national curriculum, with specific reference to the competency debate; describes the difficulties posed by the assumptions underpining the concept of a national curriculum for the arts; and provides some suggestions for research arising from the debate.