School of Music to raise its voice with community advisory board

Michael Weaver 26 August 2020
Kim Cunio with Bob McMullen

Head of the ANU School of Music Kim Cunio with advisory board head Bob McMullan. Photo: Jamie Kidston.

The ANU School of Music is gaining a new voice with the establishment of a Community Advisory Board to bridge stronger connections with the Canberra community.

The new direction follows the 2016 Podger Review which found the School suffered from a climate of distrust, emotional stress, poor management and falling standards. It called for an overhaul of governance, academic direction, financial management, culture and its role in the community.

The School has steadily made changes since then, including appointing Associate Professor Kim Cunio to head the School.

The Community Advisory Board will seek to re-establish the School of Music as a key institution in the cultural life of Canberra by helping it build connections with the local community.


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The board will be led by former Labor politician Bob McMullan. Among his many ministerial roles, Mr McMullan served as Minister for the Arts from 1993 to 1994 in the Keating Government.

“Perceptions about the school will change slowly and people form their views, so the history of the School of Music is something you have to change slowly,” Mr McMullan said.

“We can start to communicate with people in Canberra that the School of Music is back as an educational institution like it always was. But the next step is to say it’s going to resume its role as part of Canberra’s arts infrastructure.

“When I was the Member of Parliament, we looked at the School of Music as the core of Canberra’s music infrastructure. I think now we can start to do so again and people will realise the changes that are happening.”

Initiatives include a partnership with the National Institute of Dramatic Art, as well as making the School’s resources more accessible to the community.

Associate Professor Kim Cunio

Associate Professor Kim Cunio, head of the ANU School of Music. Photo: ANU.

Head of the School of Music and board member Kim Cunio said he welcomes Canberra musicians having greater input to the School.

“It’s always amazing how many people want to play music and now we have a generation where so many can take on this flexible double degree at the ANU – they’re musicians but they could also be doing law or mathematics or even astrophysics,” Associate Professor Cunio said.

Associate Professor Cunio said a strong cultural and arts scene means a richer community in Canberra.

“For decades, the ANU School of Music has been a centrepiece for cultural expression in our great city. We have trained generations of musicians and performers and drawn thousands of people to world-class performances at Llewellyn Hall.

“We stand ready to keep serving the cultural life of our city and this new board is another way we will do that. It will help support arts and culture from the ground up.”

Other board members include Region Media group editor Genevieve Jacobs and the founder of Salon Canberra Catherine Carter, who brings together thought leaders, influencers and opinion-makers to dissect issues that influence the future of Canberra, retired IT executive Tony Henshaw, consultant Tim Benson, curator Robyn Holmes and Deputy Head of the ANU School of Music Dr Paul McMahon.

Catherine Carter

Board member Catherine Carter.

Mr McMullan said the board will be a voice for the ANU School of Music to the community and ACT Government.

“It will help cement and bolster the absolutely vital role the School plays in our capital’s vibrant cultural life, as well as ensure the School is recognised and cherished by the community for the crucial role it plays in our local artistic scene.

“We want to build a long-term partnership between the School of Music and the people of Canberra.

“It is an honour to lead this board, and with the wonderful team we have assembled I have no doubt it will soon make a major and positive mark.”


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