In another blow to the Australian National University’s School of Music, a 30-year-old course it offers to Year 11 and 12 ACT music students has been axed after the loss of ACT Government funding.
Anger and dismay at the decision, quietly announced in an ArtsACT press release earlier in the year, has ignited on social media after the ANU confirmed last Thursday – amid growing anxiety – that it would no longer continue despite apparent reassurances from the university.
In a statement, an ANU spokesperson said the School of Music offered the ANU Extension Program’s Advanced Music Course, which provides one-on-one tutorials for year 11 and 12 ACT classical and jazz students and is delivered with support from ArtsACT and the ACT Education Directorate.
“Our understanding is the ACT Government funding is being redirected towards other community-based arts and music programs from 2019. While this decision will not affect students currently enrolled in the program, ANU is unable to open enrolments to students from 2019,” the spokesperson said.
“We’re disappointed we won’t be able to continue delivering this fantastic program, but ANU has a world-leading tertiary music program and ACT high school students are able to enhance their music education through the ANU Music Development Program.”
An ACT Government spokesperson said the decision was part of the refocusing of the programs that ANU provided under Community Outreach funding from the Government.
“This refocusing has resulted in a shift away from supporting students in the school environment, to supporting members across the whole community to access music programs and develop their artistic skills, in line with the aims of the 2015 ACT Arts Policy and the 2017 Social Inclusion in the Arts Plan,” the spokesperson said.
This had resulted in a range of new activities which had better reach into the wider community, especially for people experiencing disadvantage.
The spokesperson said school students still had many other ways to access music programs including the new Developing Musicians Program (non-auditioned for Year 7 to 12 students for music tuition and ensemble performances), which is part of the new Community Outreach Program. Students could also access other ACT Government-funded music programs including through Music For Canberra at the Ainslie Arts Centre, and music engagement activities by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.
But people close to the program say that ironically its axing will affect gifted public school students who will no longer be able to benefit from free one-on-one tuition with School of Music teachers, nor perform with their peers in an environment of excellence offered by the School.
They believe the program offered a crucial step in young people’s development as musicians and was a clear pathway to higher studies, importantly at the ANU, and a musical career.
They say the community programs and colleges will not be able to meet the needs of high-level students, and will force families elsewhere.
A Save H Music Facebook page has been established with people posting their concerns and calling for a campaign to save the program.
The entire program, which has about 60 students, is believed to only cost $270,000 a year and the teachers are sessional.
The ANU website says the Extension Program Advanced Music Course, also known as the Music for Colleges Program, is no longer available for application from 2019 onwards.
It offered musicians in Years 11 and 12 the opportunity to study either jazz or classical music at ANU with specialist tuition and ensemble direction, and has produced many outstanding musicians.