This article describes one of 12 areas listed in Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources, outlining the potential and actual contribution of sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics to knowledge of the music sector.
There are no comprehensive ABS statistics on this topic. When previously investigated, potential sources were defined to be the MCA’s own information base, the Australian Government’s culture and recreation portal which most regrettably was discontinued in 2010, and other sources which might provide some help though possibly less than envisaged at the time. Instead, websites associated with MCA now appear to provide the most promising guidance, plus the Australia Council, as described below. Community Music Organisations summarises the current situation and suggests some other possible pointers.
The Music in Communities Network (MICN) is Australia’s first national network, linking community music leaders in towns, cities and villages all over Australia. It grew out of MCA’s ongoing promotion of music education in schools, Music: Play for Life (MPFL), which has developed into Australia’s national music advocacy program for schools and communities. The MICN is managed by MPFL under MCA auspices and partnered by the Australian Music Association (AMA), the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME), and the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
As Australia’s first network linking community music leaders in towns, cities and villages all over Australia, the MICN provides essential guidance through the Community Music Handbook (originally written by Anne Cahill) on starting a music group. There is also a potential statistical link with the knowledge base in the form of a spreadsheet showing the structure of the current Community Music Directory including orchestras, brass bands, choirs, pipe bands, concert bands, and some currently small groups. The directory remains under development and unrepresentative but has the potential to provide a great statistical basis covering an important part of the music sector. This could be achieved by approaching the relevant organisations (see further below) providing the information through MICN or the knowledge base, or both.
Another feature of the MICN web pages is the listing of national, State and Territory based ensemble organisations, “music groups to make music with”: six national, 21 in New South Wales, 12 in Victoria, 11 in Queensland, 7 in South Australia, 10 in Western Australia, 6 in Tasmania, 10 in the ACT and 3 in the Northern Territory (some occur in more than one State). These organisations should be valuable in building up a sampling base for this type of community organisations. However, other organisations are associated with festivals and other local activities, such as the Dandenong Ranges Music Council (described in Music in the Dandenongs), The Tutti Ensemble, and the Bondi Pavilion Community Cultural Centre. Ultimately, a full list may require a general search of the Internet, but websites in the MPFL family may provide a good starting point, as they represent Australia’s only national network linking people working and volunteering in community music. For the inaugural Music in Communities Awards in 2008, 225 community music organisations entered and The Music in Communities Network listed six winners: Tutti Ensemble Incorporated, Sweet Freedom, Mungindi Music Festival, Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, Hand-in-Hand, and Dandenong Ranges Music Council. The listing of these names alone indicate the diversity among community music ventures.
One particular source that will provide essential guidance is Sound Links: Exploring the Dynamics of Musical Communities in Australia, and their Potential for Informing Collaboration with Music in Schools, by Brydie Leigh-Bartleet, Peter Dunbar-Hall, Richard Letts and Huib Schippers (Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre 2009). This study was initiated by the MCA and carried out by the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre with an Australian Research Council grant. MCA, AMA and ASME (shown above in connection with MICN) were the linkage partners. It examines the musical life of six contrasting communities, which in combination with an online survey and MCA’s inaugural Music in Communities Awards resulted in the formulation of “Nine Domains of Community Music in Australia”, described as a sort of taxonomy of features that might be considered when investigating the musical life of communities or indeed, in designing a community music program or organisation. The study contains some statistics, but its essential value is providing insights for the data collecting program.
The recommended method to obtain a proper statistical base (beyond the numbers obtained through the lists) is to conduct email surveys to obtain a representative sample of basic data including employment, sources of income including government and private funding, expenditure patterns, and other relevant information including location, legal status, year of establishment etc. Space for verbal information on the scope and purpose of each organisation, and its aims and objectives, should also be included. The survey form should be brief, preferably limited to two A4 pages, but should also be thoroughly vetted to ensure all relevant statistics will be captured as consistently as possible.
The Australia Council’s Community Partnerships Committee would be a suitable contact, in addition to MCA’s own material, in the effort to build lists for the survey of community music and festival organisations. The Australia Council website contains a list of service organisations covering one contact in each State except Queensland (five) and South Australia (two), and the Northern Territory (three contacts). Another important potential source is the Australian Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO) under the auspices of the Office for the Arts in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It lists an estimated 2,800 approved organisations (as at February 2011). Other possible sources are mentioned in Community Music Organisations, but the State organisations appear generally authoritative and are likely to be the best primary contacts together with MCA sources, ROCO, and the Australia Council.
Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Concluded 23 November 2011 as part of a general overview of statistical sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Made into independent article 11 February 2012.