A quantum of solace for music students

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Chris Peters of the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry
IN a move anticipated all week, ANU and the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry has offered music students some hope.

The announcement today of a probable collaboration  may see a breakthrough in the crisis at the university’s School of Music.

Discussions are underway to create a new consortium that would address the funding and resource issues faced by ANU, to “build a more resilient music culture in the ACT”.

It is believed that a fund on a philanthropic model would be established to boost funds by about $2 million.

“The early aims of the new consortium would be to increase funding for the benefit of music in the ACT and region, including the wide range of music groups in the ACT and the ANU School of Music,” the ANU’s media office says.

But the plan would not alter the  University’s planned Personal Development Allowance in the proposed new School of Music curriculum. Any funds used to boost the number of one-on-one lessons ANU students could access would be processed thorough that fund.

ANU vice-chancellor Prof Ian Young said: “It has always been the intention of ANU to maintain a strong performance element as part of the new School of Music curriculum… the School of Music is very closely involved with the cultural life of the ACT and I think there is real potential to have this joint effort build the resilience of music in the School, the ACT and region.”

Chief executive of the Chamber, Chris Peters said: “I see ANU and the Chamber working closely together to reach these aims, and build a sustainable future for music in the ACT. The School of Music issue has galvanized the community in its support of music, but has also highlighted the very significant funding problems faced by all universities teaching music.”

Talks have taken place against a background which saw Peters initially resign from the board of the ANU School of  Music Foundation over the issue and a move by members of the music community to withdraw their endowments to the ANU.

In a submission to the university over the issue, The Friends of the School of Music have warned that “the publicity for the proposed changes and has generated adverse publicity, tarnished the ANU’s image and we know is turning off the very philanthropy which the Vice Chancellor wants to encourage”.

The Friends argue that “ongoing viability of a tertiary music school requires not only continuation of performance degrees and staff, but an increase in the tuition staff”, noting that most donations and endowments are focussed on outstanding performance students.

Prof Young’s decision to consult with disaffected members of the community will be welcomed by students, to whom the move offers some measure of hope.




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