MIC Awards 2009

Theme: Community wellbeing

"What better way of fostering a sense of community…and reducing the pressures of a competitive, materialist society than encouraging widespread participation in the arts.” Hugh MacKay, social researcher

Active involvement in music and singing can help counteract many negative aspects of modern life such as alienation, isolation and depression by promoting mental health and physical well-being.  With this in mind, the 2009 MiC Awards sought to recognise acheivements in community music that highlight the health and wellbeing outcomes of community music. 

Two outstanding music organisations, whose benefits to their communities extend far beyond the music, were winners of the 2009 Music in Communities Awards: Canberra-based Music for Everyone and an innovative program for people with disabilities, Ambient Orchestras, in Victoria.

BEST ALL-ROUND PROGRAM     Music for Everyone, Canberra, ACT         $5,000

Music For Everyone- ACT Music Jam Session

Judges’ comment: “With a mission to make music accessible to everyone in the community, regardless of background, age or ability, ACT community music organisation, Music for Everyone, is a model of success: much loved and much used!  From humble beginnings, it now punches well above its weight and is an important ingredient in the cultural life of Canberra as the largest and broadest hands-on music making organisation in the ACT. It runs everything from  pre-school music groups for toddlers and parents, groups for people with disabilities, instrumental and vocal tuition for children, teens and adults to a youth-focused Rock Academy and drumming programs for schools. It also plays an important part in bringing adults back from a ‘lapsed’ musical life or helps unlock their creative lives by engaging older people in music making for the first time. It commissions new music, runs cross-cultural music workshops by visiting artists and provides school holiday programs, too. Take a bow, Music for Everyone!’ 

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BEST PROGRAM – INNOVATION    Ambient Orchestras, Melbourne Vic        $5,000  

Ambient Orchestras - VIC

Judges’ comment: Ambient Orchestras is a new and innovative music program that supports people with profound disability to give voice to the music within them. The brainchild of musician and disability support worker, John Edgar, it began modestly as a program of the Footscray Arts Centre, in metropolitan Victoria. Now Ambient Orchestras has 40 people with disabilities come together regularly to put their own stamp on the concept of ‘orchestra’. We were impressed by the way in which Ambient Orchestras’ innovative approach to unlocking people’s musicality could serve as a powerful model for therapists, musicians and community centres all over Australia. Instruments are modified, rhythms are loose and an environment is created which is totally at the service of each musician’s capabilities. The outcome is beautiful, 21st century orchestral music: ambient and meaningful.”

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There were four Runners-Up in the 2009 Music in Communities Awards, each receiving $2500.

Runner Up    Women in Harmony, Sunshine Coast, Qld    $2,500

Women in Harmony - QLD

The Women In Harmony choir was formed in 2005 after several racist incidents had rocked the local community. The choir came together to enable women from all cultural backgrounds to celebrate diversity by learning music in each other’s languages  - at the same time sending a powerful message about tolerance and togetherness on its own doorstep.

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Runner-Up    Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Vic        $2,500

Since 1995 the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club has been meeting monthly to learn and play the fiddle music of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora. Since the beginning the group has had an inspiring commitment to bringing young and old together to learn from and with each other.

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Runner-Up    Willunga Academy of Rock, Regional SA        $2,500

Willunga Academy of Rock - SA

This community group provides tuition, mentoring, resources and facilities for budding young musicians in the regional town of Willunga. It has become an integral part of its community, helping otherwise socially-isolated young people connect with others through music and performance. Now Academy of Rock participants also range from complete beginners, experienced musicians looking to refine their skills and teenagers needing support with their high school music studies.

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Runner-Up    Brunswick Women’s Choir                $2,500

For over nineteen years The Brunswick Women's Choir has been supporting women in the Brunswick area to sing, sing, sing.  The make-up of the Choir has changed over time but its commitment to social justice and affirming women's experiences is as strong as ever.

The 2008 winners included the Dandenong Ranges Music Council, the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus and Tutti, an Adelaide-based organisation for young people with disabilities.

Despite pockets of activity, on the whole Australia has proportionally fewer active music makers compared with other Western nations such as the US and the UK. Household surveys show there are an estimated 5 million ‘lapsed’ musicians – people who once learned, but no longer play.

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