7 May 2012

Open letter to Katy Gallagher, MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT

Ms Gallagher

I write about the possible changes at the ANU School of Music. I’m sure you are aware of the changes that have been proposed. You may also be aware of the ardent campaign that is now running in the the community. The ANU is a national institution, and so is not under your control. However, I wish to highlight to you the dangers for the ACT of these changes. They don’t just change the situation at one university. They change the whole ACT community. Essentially, the remnants of the School of Music will no longer draw aspiring musicians to Canberra to study. The results of this are devastating to the culture and damaging to the people and business of Canberra. I borrow from Jenna Cave, ex-graduate and now a professional composer:

“Without the school of music functioning as a training ground for quality musicians and retaining its world class instrument tutors, the hub of music making in your town will be gone. There will be no Canberra Symphony Orchestra. There will be no inspired young music students and graduates to teach your children. There will be no one to play jazz at bars around town. There will be no string quarters or jazz bands for your weddings. And most importantly, there will be nowhere to inspire your children to imagine that they could one day study to become an amazing musician.”

I love Canberra for its intellectual and cultural scene which is beyond expectation for a city of this size. But now I picture an enfeebled culture. All Jenna’s predictions above, plus … Community groups, choirs, Canberra Concerto Orchestra, UC College of Music, Duntroon starved of musicians. Clubs and bars and tea rooms without talented and committed artists, with implications for business. Even embassies and national institutions starved of performers. What of Australia’s reputation with an orchestra-free capital? And what of Canberra’s reputation within Australia?

On the eve of our centenary, at the very time we are celebrating Canberra 100, will Canberra revert to culture-starved and orchestra-free Country Town status, that status we for which we are perpetually mocked?

Canberra is far better than this. I implore you to work with ANU V-C Ian Young to find a way to save this essential institution.

Eric Pozza

7 May 2012

Attachment: Open letter to ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young

cc. Joy Burch, MLA, ACT Minister for the Arts
cc. Caroline Le Couteur, MLA, ACT Greens spokesperson on the Arts
cc. Vicki Dunne, MLA, ACT Shadow Arts Minister
cc. Robyn Archer, Creative Director, Centenary of Canberra

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