Music school to be truly national

Article from: The Australian
Corrie Perkin, National arts writer | November 19, 2008

PETER Garrett killed off one classical music institute yesterday and gave birth to another.

As predicted in The Australian, the Arts Minister signed a memorandum of understanding with Melbourne University to create the Australian Institute of Music Performance.

The new institute, which replaces the Australian National Academy of Music as a school for elite classical musicians, will operate from July next year.

“This will be a truly national program, supported by national auditions and access to bursaries and scholarships to students outside the Melbourne region,” Mr Garrett said.

“It will more effectively meet the Government’s objectives for elite classical music training.”

The AIMP will receive $2.5 million annual government funding — the same amount allocated to ANAM since its inception 12 years ago.

But yesterday’s announcement left many observers uneasy about the future of elite music training.

‘I would have thought this announcement might include an outline of new directions, new projects and a real commitment to future development, but all the minister’s done is move the money from one organisation to another,” said Melbourne Symphony Orchestra managing director Trevor Green.

ANAM’s artistic director, Brett Dean, said that he was devastated by the decision to build a whole new training entity.

“It is as if the words of his media release have been lifted from the academy’s 2009 prospectus,” Dean said.

“This raises again the question: why? Why wreck a place that has been internationally endorsed to be so effective and efficient?”

Opposition arts spokesman Steven Ciobo said ANAM’s closure was “the latest chapter in bungled Labor decisions that have ended one of Australia’s centres of excellence and left students’ futures in limbo”.

Referring to the friendship between Kevin Rudd and Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, Mr Ciobo said: “Questions have to be asked about the process behind minister Garrett’s decision-making, and what relationship exists between the vice-chancellor … and the Prime Minister.”

The announcement came less than 24 hours after Mr Garrett received an angry letter signed by 760 artists, including Geoffrey Rush, Barry Humphries, David Williamson, Peter Carey and Paul Kelly, condemning the decision to axe ANAM’s funding.