October 30, 2008 § 1 Comment
“And to cut back public support would be a fatal error, not only for cultural institutions but also for the whole country. Once support is cut, it takes thrice as long to build it up again. And that may never happen. That’s why every cut, every measure which diminishes quality has to be fought.”
Simone Young speaking on Cultural Funding in Germany from the DVD “From Hamburg to Downunder”.
My name is Ashley William Smith and I am a clarinetist studying at the
Australian National Academy of Music
I am one of several students from Perth who have/are benefiting enormously
from the unique performance training that ANAM offers. I come from an
average, non-musical, working-family in Noranda and attended my local
state school. I purchased my first clarinet as the result of washing
trays at the local butcher at the age of eleven. I completed a
Bachelor of Music at the University of Western Australia where I
graduated with several prizes, including a nomination for the J.A.
Wood Prize for the most outstanding graduate of the University for 2008.
I am heavily indebted to my teachers and lecturers at UWA for their
excellent teaching and their commitment to music and the careers of
their students. Given the resources and the number of
performance-career focused students at UWA, I have been given an
undergraduate education which I know is second to none in the country.
However, I have learnt more from the last nine months I spent at the
Academy than from the five years I spent at UWA. It is impossible to
recreate the ANAM model in each state. There are
simply not the resources, the number and quality of students, as well
as the number of visiting artists that the ANAM’s model, as the
centralised ‘national’ school, allows. Being continuously surrounded
by Australia’s fifty most talented young musicians in a hot-house
environment is an experience which no state based model would provide.
I would not be able to ‘tackle life as a professional musician’ were
it not for my (hopefully ongoing) time at ANAM. The last
nine woodwind placements in professional Australian orchestras went to
ANAM students or alumni. As I intend to pursue a career as a soloist
and contemporary / avant-garde musician (where the competition is even
more intense) the specialised opportunities that ANAM provides are of
even more significance.
I must also point out that the musicians of Perth have had fair
representation at the Academy. Others, with whom I am sure you work
with regularly, include Madeleine Boud, Louise McKay, Shaun Lee-Chen,
Rebecca White, Eve Silver, Nick Metcalfe, Alex Brogan, Heather
McMahon, Joanne Brown and Doree Dixon. As the result of its extensive
audition programme, Academy Musicians hail from all over the country.
In our wind section alone there are students from Newcastle NSW, Coffs
Harbour NSW, the Mornington Peninsula VIC, Port Sorrell TAS, the Gold
Coast QLD as well as Perth. There are also many Academy Musicians from
rural areas, including AYO principal violist Tara Houghton who is from
outback Queensland. Maxwell Foster, the
2008 Young Performer of the Year, has traveled from Brisbane to study
at the Junior Academy.
It must be noted that the reason that ANAM has not toured interstate
is because of a lack of adequate funding – not because of the
decisions of the ANAM board. Most recently ANAM has toured as
extensively as it can. Woodwind quintets and string quartets performed
interstate just last year.
ANAM is also the chief cultivator of cross-institutional contact in
this country. For instance, ANAM invited students and teachers from
every music institution in the country (including UWA and WAAPA) to
take part in the master-classes and concerts for the ‘Piano!’
festival. Three times this month, the ANAM orchestra has joined forces
with the percussion and brass classes of the VCA. This Friday I am
performing a work with a violinist who has been specially sent down
from the Brisbane Conservatorium. The Academy has also hosted a brass
festival, an oboe festival and many vocal programmes which are open to
non-Academy musicians. Non-ANAM music students can attend most
concerts and master-classes for free. There is no other music
institution (other than AYO, perhaps) that dedicates itself so
strongly to bringing together the young musicians of the country.
Most ANAM visiting artists are already in Melbourne as the result of appearances
for Musica Viva, the ACO and the MSO. This is emphasises the need for
ANAM, as a centralised model, to exist in the city which is
undoubtedly the cultural capital of the nation. If we sent these
international artists all over the country to teach do a master-class
and for two students, the costs to the tax-payer would be astronomical.
I firmly believe that ANAM does not degrade the value of our tertiary
institutions but, on the contrary, raises their standard. I personally
know of several UWA musicians who wish to ‘polish’ their undergraduate
knowledge by attending ANAM in the future. The extremely intense
competition to enter the Academy means that these undergraduate
musicians are working harder than ever. If ANAM is closed, I am sure
it will result in a lowering of standard in music institutions across
the whole country.
Ashley William Smith
Academy Musician (Clarinet)
October 27, 2008 § 2 Comments
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) 30/11/08
The Open Letter to Peter Garrett
The Sydney Morning Herald
The West Australian
Melbourne Herald Sun
ABC Online News
Steve Ciobo in the House of Reps 2/12/08
October 26, 2008 § 6 Comments
This is my open letter to Minister Garrett and a reply from Lindsay Tanner regarding this issue. I will publish any correspondence I may receive from him.
October 26, 2008
Dear Minister Garrett,
It is with shock and dismay that I hear of your plans to scrap the Australian National Academy of Music’s funding from 2009. This institution provides the cream of Australia’s young musicians with access to the best mentoring and “on the job training”.
Until the creation of this Academy, this type of post-graduate training could only be achieved by travel overseas, removing young musicians from all-important networks in Australia, not to mention creating extreme financial hardship for them.
Removing them from networks here causes them to “miss the boat” with important early professional engagements and other contacts within the slender opportunities that Australia has for people in this industry.
The publicly funded costs to train an Olympic athlete are astronomical. A conservative estimate is that each gold medal at the Olympics over the past 20 years has cost the taxpayer around 40 million dollars. Apparently, it costs around 2.5 million to fund the entire Australian National Academy of Music for one year! Surely Australia’s young elite music talent deserves the best possible training in order to flourish in what is a fiercely competitive field.
I have been a supporter of ALP policies and philosophy for all of my adult life, and was thrilled at the ALP victory in last year’s Federal election. In this case I fear you are making a grave error of judgment and urge you to reconsider your position on this vital contributor to Australia’s cultural wealth.
I look forward to your considered response to this important question about the future of classical music in Australia.
Principal Bass Clarinet
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Cc Stephen Smith Federal Member for Perth
Reply from Lindsay Tanner, Federal member for Melbourne and Minister for Finance and Deregulation.
Thank you for your correspondence regarding the Australian National Academy
of Music (ANAM).
The Australian Government remains committed to the provision of elite-level
classical music training in Australia
It is the view of the Government however that ANAM can no longer be
considered the most effective or efficient means of delivering classical
music training which bridges the gap between tertiary studies and
Over a period of six months, the Government sought from ANAM an assurance
they would implement a number of critical reforms to improve governance and
Unfortunately ANAM were unable to satisfactorily address these concerns.
Therefore, the Government believes that the funding previously provided to
ANAM could be spent more effectively to deliver support for emerging
On Friday 31 October, Arts Minister Peter Garrett met with a number of
representatives from the sector, including a delegation of ANAM students,
and reiterated the Government’s determination to provide ongoing funding for
our talented musicians.
The Government is now investigating possible models for the most effective
delivery of elite-level classical music training in Australia and expects to
announce an alternative shortly which will ensure continuity for students
and provide a stable, long-term program for music training.
Thank you for writing on this important matter.
Federal Member for Melbourne | Minister for Finance and Deregulation
Canberra: (02) 6277 7400 | (02) 6267 4110 | | Parliament House CANBERRA ACT
Melbourne: (03) 9347 5000 | (03) 9347 1351 | 102 Victoria St CARLTON VIC
From: Alex Millier [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, 27 October 2008 5:21 PM
To: Tanner, Lindsay (MP)
Subject: ANAM cuts
I sincerely hope these funding cuts to ANAM can be reversed.
As an ALP supporter I feel quite shocked to see an important organisation
like this go under.
Please reconsider the situation.
I have enclosed my letter to Minister Garrett for your consideration.
Principal Bass Clarinet
WA Symphony Orchestra.
October 21, 2008 § 2 Comments
In a move that was thankfully quickly quashed by newly-elected WA premier Colin Barnett, his National Party colleague Brendon Grylls demonstrated support for a nuclear waste dump.
This has also been the case with the NSW national party as outlined in the recent Newsletter by ARIUS (Association for Regional and International Underground Storage page 6 July 2008).
An extract from this newsletter is reprinted below.
“Following what appeared to be the dawn of an enlightened national debate on how it wants to see its role in the global nuclear fuel cycle, the new government of the worldís second largest supplier of uranium appears ready to step back into the darkness and firmly close the doors.
Last September, the previous government signed Australia up to the GNEP agreement (as well as the Generation IV International Forum). For a country to be part of GNEP implies that it has an interest in its place in the global fuel cycle (see article on GNEP onthis page). As has been frequently stated by many international and domestic commentators (including a past Prime Minister), Australia is one of the very few countries in the world that would be conferred the international trust to operate a full suite of fuel cycle facilities for use by other countries to the considerable economic and political advantage of the nation. The new government of Kevin Rudd is now looking again at the issue of nuclear. On being challenged that involvement in GNEP might mean consideration of hosting an international repository, Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, simultaneously capped both ends of the fuel cycle by saying that the Rudd government “….categorically rules out accepting any waste from any other country and categorically rules out any enrichment programme in Australia”. Asked whether Australia would continue to be part of GNEP, he firmly stated that he was “not sure”.
Meanwhile, a June meeting in Sydney of Australian National party members from New South Wales seems rather to have shocked itself and other party members by voting in favour of a motion to the effect that they supported research into the development of a nuclear power industry and a commercial international nuclear waste facility in Australia. When the motion reached the NSW parliament, three days later, a vote was taken that, among other things, condemned this policy and called upon the Liberal party either to over-rule or endorse their “junior partner”. The vote was in favour. The leader of the NSW Nationals meanwhile distanced himself from his party members and said that the result of the original vote was “not binding”. He also said that, what Australian politicians continue to refer to as a nuclear waste dump, is “….electorally unpalatable …the same as for nuclear power stations”.
In 2006, the previous Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard had called for a full-blooded debate on nuclear energy. It does not seem that this debate is being approached in a responsible manner by most politicians.”
So the precedent is there for members of the National Party in Australia to be supportive of nuclear waste disposal in Australia. We need to keep a closer eye on them in the future and to ask them about this issue prior to state and federal elections.