The MiCN Blog

The MiCN features posts by our Community Music Mentors, the MiCN team, and guest contributors.  We have invited previous winners of the MiCN Awards, exemplars of excellence in community music leadership, to write a regular blog. Follow our featured mentor as they face up to the daily challenges, the highs and lows, the successes and the qualified successes of being a community music leader. This is where our Network mentors share with us what they do and how they do it. Read and learn!

What is the Festival of Voices?

27 February 2014

We recently did a short Q & A with the Festival of Voices

Now in its tenth year, Festival of Voices is Australia’s premier festival celebration of the voice in its many forms. Every year in July, this unique festival welcomes over a thousand choristers and vocalists to the historic waterfront precinct of Hobart for ten wonderful days turning it into a ‘Singing City’.

On any one day, you can attend concerts in grand concert halls, churches, historic buildings as well as small pubs, market halls and street corners; and be listening to choirs, ensembles, spoken word performers and solo artists singing gospel, a cappella, music theatre and cabaret.

This July you can expect singers to die for, world class workshops to get involved with, large scale 'big sing' community events, intimate one-off, never-to-be-seen-again performances and then there's Voicebox. 2014 has surprises in store which will light your fire like you never dreamed possible. It’s a bright star shining on the city of Hobart from 4 to 13 July.

Can you tell us about how the program includes professional, community and student groups?

The Festival offers a world class program of concerts, workshops and events for people of all ages and abilities, presented by internationally renowned guest artists and vocal teachers.

Central to everything we do is the singers who participate, who travel to Hobart to experience all that is unique about the festival and this amazing city, an event like no other which transforms Hobart into a vibrant hub of learning, sharing and performing.

Over the years, the Festival has discovered that our artists, singers and choristers most enjoy the things that are not so easily measured: opportunities to sing, share, laugh and perform with others, in an experience that resonates for years to come.

What are the highlights of the 2014 program?

Singers from across Australia and the Pacific come to visit Festival of Voices every July to learn new repertoire and skills, work with exceptional teachers, meet fellow vocalists and choristers and perform in remarkable heritage venues.

Join us over six stimulating days as we celebrate the human voice and the magic of the shared singing experience.

Meet our world class vocal conductors:

  • The Exchange don’t just entertain; they engage. This will be a rare opportunity to join these five vocal powerhouses whose electricity will ignite your fire with their signature vocal-powered pop energy.
  • Back by popular demand, we are delighted to have David Lawrence, who inspired and thrilled choristers after leading a stunning workshop in 2013.
  • Don’t miss gospel great Eric Dozier as he takes you on an interactive hands-on exploration into the heart of African American spiritual folk hymns with the celebrated Southern Gospel Choir.

Can you tell us more about the workshops and who they are suited to? Are these for professional singers, students, anyone who loves to sing?

This year we offer passionate singers of all ages and ability the opportunity to work with some of the most renowned vocal conductors in the world.

If choirs would like to perform at the festival, how can they get involved?

The Festival of Voices Choirs Program is a non-competitive choral gathering offering amazing opportunities to choirs to gather, sing, perform, listen and learn in concerts, clubs and social events over four special days of the Festival.

We announce a new and exciting addition with the announcement of the International Choral Program. This is a showcase opportunity for international touring choirs and outstanding Australian choirs who are working towards a high level of musical excellence, motivated by performance and touring.

Visit the Festival of Voices website for more information on the International Choral Program, Performing Choir and Local Choir packages.

Where can people find more information about the Festival of Voices?

If you want to be part of something remarkable, secure your workshop place by March 14 to take advantage of our early bird rate. For more information visit

Music Council of Australia Relaunches as Music Australia (2)

Music Council of Australia has relaunched as Music Australia. Our website is now: information about our organisation and its services.

Over the coming months we are working to update information from this website and move it to our Music Australia new site.

Submission: Live Music Matters

17 January 2014

This submission is a response to the City of Sydney's Live Music Matters plan, available here.

The Music Council of Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the City of Sydney's Live Music Matters: Live music and performance action plan.

Feature: Sweet Adelines in Australia to celebrate 25 years of singing

Sweet Adelines Australia is part of Sweet Adelines International, a premier world-wide organisation of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education, competition and performance.

Successful MiCN Day - 14 May 2011

MiCN went to Wollongong on Saturday 14 May for its second Music in Communities Network Day at the newly refurbished Wollongong Town Hall. Community musicians from across the Illawarra and South Coast joined forces to share skills, find ways to grow their membership base and increase local participation in musical activity.

Speakers on the day included Robert Carr, musician, academic and convener of the recent State of the Music Scene forum who gave us some insight into the state of live music in Wollongong. Jenny Thompson and Louise Croker, Cultural representatives from both Wollongong and Kiama councils filled us in on upcoming local government cultural initiatives and gave invaluable advice on engaging with council. Tina Broad, manager of Music:Play for Life presented an energetic and engaging marketing workshop. Andrew Snell, CEO of the Wollongong Conservatorium suggested ways we can get involved in the Illawarra Music Festival.

Well known local composer, musician and radio presenter on ABC Illawarra, Mark Matthews, gave an inspiring keynote address on his own personal musical journey, and the power of music to transform lives.

A highlight was the performance by Djembe Gems, an all-women African Drumming group led by music therapist Elena Bellinato. For many of these drummers Saturday was their very first public performance!

A full report of the day’s activities and outcomes can be found here.


A live music scene needs a live music policy

conversation-logoThis article is republished from The Conversation according to its guidelines. First published 27 November 2012

By Kate Shaw, University of Melbourne

The Bendigo Hotel, a live music venue in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, is facing closure after complaints about noise. As an online campaign mounts to stop the Bendigo being closed down, cities around Australia are exploring strategies to encourage live performance culture.

Music is our GPS, so we need to keep supporting it

conversation-logoThis article is republished from The Conversation according to its guidelines. First published 20 November 2013

By Huib Schippers, Griffith University

Music is not essential for humankind. Unlike air, food, physical safety or reproduction, music is not a precondition for survival of the species. We are unlikely to ever read that the cause of death of a healthy young person found lifeless somewhere in an apartment was “music deprivation”.

Yet virtually all people in the world passionately engage with music. Almost every culture has music of some kind, and more often of many kinds. Some have moral or religious restrictions on music, others flaunt it whether you want to hear it or not. What is music to some is horrible noise to others: across cultures, generations, corridors …

Innovative Councils Can Support Live Music

by Alex Masso

This year the government of Australia’s largest capital city has been preparing a major action plan to support live music. It covers a vast amount of territory with dozens of recommendations and goes where very few music initiatives in Australia have gone before. The full report was released in November and will likely influence music policy in Australia for some time to come. Read more

The willingness of a local council (in this case, a major capital city) to open up the discussion and cover any relevant topic has been inspiring and fascinating. Noise regulations, liquor licensing, building codes and development applications are all hot topics for live music advocates looking to support venues and reduce regulatory barriers and inhibitors to cultural activity. In addition to these, here are three of the other areas where local governments can think strategically and make a real difference to musical life in their communities.  

ASME2013 Presentation

Presentation by Alex Masso at the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) Conference in Canberra, Monday 30 September 2013.

Keeping music live: government's Live Music Office should be welcomed

conversation-logoThis article is republished from The Conversation according to its guidelines. First published 2 August 2013

By Jane Davidson, University of Western Australia

Federal arts minister Tony Burke this week announced the government’s commitment to setting up a National Live Music Office. Burke said the taskforce will:

…partner with governments, local councils, communities, businesses, musicians and songwriters on how to lift barriers to ensure more acts can perform at venues around the country.

Ianto Ware, an experienced musician and coordinator, will manage the office, which is to be administered by the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and funded to the tune of A$560,000 over the next three years. Each state is set to have a contemporary music performance ambassador representing their interests. Looking at these facts, a broad consultative approach is anticipated.

What does parking have to do with music?

by Alex Masso, 5 July 2013

Recently I told someone I was looking at a local council's draft parking policy, they asked me "what does parking have to do with music?" It's a fair question.

Policy Blog: National Arts and Culture Accord

Update: 14 May 2013

The National Arts and Culture Accord has now been released:

More analysis of the Accord and the potential for crossjurisdictional collaboration to come!

by Alex Masso, 9 May 2013

As part of the Creative Australia policy announced earlier this year, Australia has a new agreement between federal, state and local government jurisdictions known as the "National Arts and Culture Accord". This was one of the highlights identified in our response to the Creative Australia policy, since it offers potential to address a number of areas that need attention, expand on important policy work already happening in some parts of the country, and strengthen crossjurisdictional cooperation.

Creative Australia: The Social and Economic Dividend

by Alex Masso

Part 4 of our response to the Creative Australia policy looks at a section titled "Connect to national life for a social and economic dividend". It is broad ranging and refers to a number of special areas of interest to the Music in Communities Network, although it doesn't deal specifically with community music.

Creative Australia: Modernise Funding and Support

by Alex Masso, March 2013

Part 3 of our response to the Creative Australia policy looks at arts funding, business and philanthropic support, and cooperation between different levels of government. In the cultural policy, these areas fall under the first of three sections: "Modernise Funding and Support".

The Australia Council and supporting a culture of giving, partnership and investment, mentorship and entrepreneurship

The government is now committed to structural reform and increased funding for the Australia Council. While very little of the structural reform affects community music, there is some hope for increased Community Partnerships support as part of the Australia Council’s funding boost.

Creative Australia and Music in Communities

by Alex Masso, March 2013

The Creative Australia policy offers a timely, contemporary and necessary cultural policy framework and a range of strategic actions. There are gaps in spheres of action and gaps in narrative, but overall it is a mighty effort in a complex and diverse part of Australian life.

What do we know about Creative Young Stars?

by Alex Masso, March 2013

In the Creative Australia policy released in mid-March, then Arts Minister Simon Crean announced the new “Creative Young Stars” initiative to support young people in the arts. We now have some more information about this initiative, and some suggestions for maximising the benefits.

Culture of Tolerance?

20 March 2013

Search results: Tolerance. No results.The Creative Australia policy released last week has been widely acclaimed as a great step forward for cultural life, and particularly the arts, in Australia. Some members of our arts community, however, were surprised to find no new funding to support their needs, and language that is at best poorly worded, at worst offensive, in the context of a national cultural policy.

On the Road to the Wollongong Live Music Taskforce

14 March, 2013
Earlier this week Wollongong City Council voted unanimously in favour of establishing a Live Music Taskforce, in addition to preparing a new Cultural Plan for the city. Dr Robert Carr, who spearheaded the push for a Live Music Taskforce in Wollongong for more than a year, says that it comes on the back of a long history of advocacy within the local community. Here, Dr Carr – historian, musician and long time music advocate - gives us an insight into this legacy, its achievements, and what happened in Wollongong Council on Monday night when it all came down to a vote – and a packed public gallery.

Creative Young Stars

by Alex Masso, 13 March 2013

News broke this week that the federal government is considering an initiative where MPs have $23500 to support young artists in their electorate as part of the National Cultural Policy. We have no detail about this, yet, but the reports in News Ltd suggest that the program might be a version of Local Sporting Champions. That report also suggests they might have a "Community Idol” or some such talent quest, with prize money. They call it "Creative Young Stars".

What's happening in live music policy?

by Alex Masso. Originally published 8 March 2013, Updated 24 March 2013.

Judging by the first three months of 2012, this could be a big year for live music policy. Discussions about live music seems to happen constantly in one place or another, but we're now seeing a lot of action in various parts of the country. Here's a summary of some of the action.

Local Government and Live Music – Friend or Foe?

by John Wardle. Published in Music Forum magazine, Vol 19 Issue 2 (February 2013)

Many contemporary musicians see local government as the greatest challenge to their ability to practise their craft and earn a living performing, and to participate in the cultural life of their community.

By acting for residents and developers on complaints against venues, importing outside artists for festivals and special events, and through the legacy from requiring development consent and compliance for live gigs whilst exempting pokies, gambling, broadcast sport, recorded music and screen based entertainment, NSW local governments have delivered a perverse result contrary to their cultural accords by actively killing local and live subculture.

Have Your Say: QLD Arts Strategy

Queensland friends,

You have until March 1, 2013 to fill out a survey about the government's "Arts For All Queenslanders" strategy.

Arts Info Newsletter

Wingecarribbee Shire Council, covering the area better known at the NSW Southern Highlands (south-west of Sydney), publishes a regular Arts Info newsletter. It includes a wide range of arts & culture events, professional and community-based.

Important day for the arts and local government

by Alex Masso, 13 November 2012

Today feels like an important day for the arts and local government in Australia.

Today and tomorrow, the NSW Local Government and Shires Associations are holding their Arts & Culture Summit in Sydney. This is the first event of its kind, with an ambitious program and agenda, we hope it becomes a regular feature on the calendar in NSW and that the idea catches on in other states.