Progress to Date

A Dual Purpose

This paper, #8 in the current series which has developed the scenario-planning approach to future analysis of the Australian music sector, serves an essential dual purpose:

  1. It defines the music sector in 2015 as a basis for the four scenarios in paper #9, A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios.
  2. This description of the music sector also works as a basis for the subsequent statistical analysis to develop an estimate of its economic contribution in 2015. The numerical estimate can then be extended into the next 20 years based on each of the scenarios.

The first section of the paper provides background and perspective. It is followed by a description of each identified set of specific music sector drivers: Culture, Education, Infrastructure and Innovation. Each of these descriptions is supported by references, many of which are only a click away on the Knowledge Base which is living up to its name in many areas. The final section, Music Sector 2015, is a synthesis.

Moving on from Global Scenarios

Paper #7 in this series, Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage, established that four quite different scenario stories could be told based on two sets of critical uncertainties: (a) the world is either “progressive” or “reactionary”, and (b) Australian culturally related policies (arts, education, environment) are either “strong” or “weak” (high or low priority). See box below.

All four combinations are considered plausible — an acid test for scenarios. Culturally related policies might be relatively out of favour in Australia in a “progressive” world. This could make artistic success more dependent on “rugged individualism” to use the shorthand name given to the scenario (there is of course more to it than that). Conversely, Australia might be actively pursuing culturally related policies in a “reactionary” world which is dominated, using shorthand again, by “vested interests”. For example, Australia could be motivated by its proximity to a relatively fast growing Asia which pursues strong education policies, and realising the need to improve our position on the international list of education scores.

Drafting the globally based 2015-35 scenarios in paper #7 revealed a missing link in the process. The four scenarios of course would have different future impacts but the position of the Australian music sector in 2015 was not defined, so the stories of the future turned out to be unduly nebulous. The global and general Australian scenarios in paper #7 were deemed to be adequate, but the initial draft descriptions of the music sector itself were not and had to be removed.

It became clear that in addition to the general driving forces implicit in the scenario stories in Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage we needed to find special sets of drivers to define the current status of the music sector — the role of this paper. The section below headed “A Common Base for the Music Scenarios” nominates four sets of specific drivers which help determine where the Australian music sector finds itself in 2015 within the global and general Australian setting. This leads to descriptions of their impacts, which are clearly interactive. This knowledge is then used to develop the draft music scenarios in paper #9, A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios, which is open for comments from stakeholders and for other information that adds strength to the stories.

The complex iterative process that has guided the development of this work is understandable — in retrospect inevitable — in a project which appears to be the first to establish globally based scenarios for any art form. In summary, Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage (paper #7) required the discovery of critical uncertainties to set the framework for scenario-building. Having defined these, four scenario stories were written which succeeded as far as the global and general Australian aspects are concerned. But the specific scenarios for the music sector that were mistakenly expected to follow logically turned out to need the basis which this paper, #8, provides.

Summary of General Scenario Stories

As described above, the major breakthrough in paper #7 was to determine two sets of critical uncertainties, needed to define a framework of four scenarios. For detail see the section on Capturing the Uncertainties

The outlines of the four scenarios, one for each combination of the two sets of critical uncertainties, are shown in Chart 1 (copied from Chart 4 of Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage). These outlines are not specific to the music sector — indeed the word “music” does not appear in any of the four descriptions (the closest reference is “artists”). As already indicated, the global and general parts of the scenarios that emerged from these sets of critical uncertainties are considered to be acceptable but the current state of the music sector needs to be better defined.

A Common Basis for the Music Scenarios

Specific scenarios for the music sector remain part of the logical structure which was used to develop the global and general Australian stories in Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage. The music scenarios are themselves driven by worldwide factors such as the state of the global economy and how it is distributed, the extent of global conflict, attitudes to science and technology and how to deal with global issues such as inequality and the climate change threat. Specific Australian issues include immigration and population growth, the ageing population and the ratio of workforce to dependent age groups, local politics and lobbying, and government budget policies. The music sector is influenced by these forces, derived from the critical uncertainties behind the scenario stories — the world is either “progressive” or “reactionary”, and Australian culturally related policies (the arts, education and the environment) are either “strong” or “weak”.

Australia’s music sector is naturally part of the global and local environment as spelled out in A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios. In short, the basic scenario context helps define the status of the music sector within a given global and general Australian environment, which may be the situation in 2015 or a point along a particular scenario path. But it doesn’t properly define the Australian music sector. Its essential character is linked to sets of specificdrivers“.

Drivers in this context refer to sets of identified influences which together affect how the music sector, or part of it, functions. They may be strengths or weaknesses, or a mix of both. Each set of specific drivers is given a generic “policy-neutral” name (“Culture” rather than “cultural policy”), but this is just a heading that covers a range of interrelated influences. By definition there are policy implications because an adverse scenario cannot be mitigated unless there are feasible policy solutions. This paper attempts to spell out the strategic elements of such policies.

Importantly, the effect of the driving forces should be capable of being expressed in such a way that estimates can be derived of the macroeconomic impact of each scenario.

The first task is to provide a brief description of the music sector in the opening year of the scenarios, 2015, and explore how much can be explained in terms of these four proposed sets of drivers. If that test is passed, the same set can then be used in the scenario stories themselves.1

Thumbnail sketches of the four sets are listed in alphabetical order below. As noted above, the main objective apart from defining the music sector in the starting year (2015) is to find sets of drivers that can also be used to tell a set of plausible alternative future scenario stories. They become tools for predicting change, initially in qualitative terms indicating change relative to the base year. The ultimate objective of the project is to estimate the economic value of the Australian music sector in 2015, which will allow forward statistical estimates to be made.

In an unpredictable environment where the condition of the music sector depends on multiple interactive influences it would be very difficult to demonstrate whether one set contributes more than another. The four sets resulted from intensive reflection over a considerable time. The subsequent revelation, illustrated by Chart 2, was that their main characteristic is interdependence — which is an advantage because it brings some order to the analysis of a potentially chaotic future. It might be possible to imagine alternative sets of drivers, but because the influences interact or work in parallel this wouldn’t have led to drastic changes in the scenarios. The choice of these four sets was supported because it led to plausible descriptions of alternative futures, capable of being projected with some confidence in A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios.

It is difficult to convey a concise definition to each set of drivers, especially the first one, Culture, which may mean different things to different people. The 1994 cultural plan, and its attempted replacement in 2013, probably provides the best framework for “culture” in the sense an art form like music fits in. In a policy context, however, culture (however defined) and related activities such as education and ecological protection are seen as something that can be to some extent postponed, as shown in the first dot point below. This seems to be an important feature to be reflected in the actual scenarios in A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios.

  • Culture: Australians have a strong sense of national pride, which has been largely shared (and added to) by successive migrant groups which have made Australia the multicultural society we inhabit today. However, the position of culturally related policies (defined as critical uncertainties in these scenarios) is affected by the relative ease with which these policies can be given lower priority because of their discretionary nature. Their visible impact is in the medium to long term, rather than the immediate future. The arts and culture generally are also affected by overseas forces, including international trade agreements which are currently mainly economically driven, rather than being considered instruments to protect local culture. Intellectual property practice is another influence with strong international connections.
  • Education: Research shows that music education, especially in many local public primary schools, is often lacking in quality because specialist teachers are not available. This affects the general quality of school music education as well as being inequitable because not all parents can afford to offer their children private tuition or another school. This situation could take several years to rectify. There are of course positive factors — many schools offer excellent music education; talented school students may receive special support; tertiary music institutions offer a more diversified range of educational opportunities; there is growing recognition that exposure to music from an early age stimulates general learning skills such as maths, science and languages. Australia’s tertiary music institutions have also been subject to criticism, much of it associated with funding restrictions which have reduced the opportunity for talented students to receive one-to-one tuition.
  • Infrastructure covers a very wide field, so wide that it needs to be contained for practical policy purposes as discussed in the relevant section of this paper. Some components change slowly, some faster, but they will all change over the 20-year period of the scenarios and are as much subject to policy interventions as any on this list. At the highest level, infrastructure encompasses the national economy and the political and social structure. Some infrastructure is bricks and mortar (from opera houses to pubs and clubs), but there is also a long list of intangible (“soft”) infrastructure which may be incompletely described as follows: symphony orchestras; music in communities; local and state government regulations; music therapy and other health-related uses of music; the changing patterns of musical tastes; music genres from art to pop; regular festivals and other events; the entire education system from pre-school to tertiary including the role and status of scientific research; general participation and involvement; supporting music organisations; intellectual property regulations and the development of the national broadband network. Another part of the infrastructure is Australian content and the policy implications that goes with it. Last but not least, the Australian music sector is open to the world and the overseas influences on this set of drivers are strong.
  • Innovation is shorthand for the strong and growing influence of innovation and technology on the development of the music sector, including what Professor Philip Graham2 has called digital value chains. Its impact is huge and more than anything makes Australian music part of the global stage.

These thumbnail sketches may look simplistic but the reality is anything but. Each set of drivers has multiple policy impacts, barely touched upon in the brief descriptions above. The perspective of each is discussed below. The cultural impact, while strong, may be limited because culturally related policies are subject to policy constraints, and for other reasons not mentioned above. Infrastructure is affected by government policy ranging from the Commonwealth through the states to local councils, and by decisions taken in the private sector. As well as by a host of other factors associated with the continuing international digitisation, the impact of innovation and technology is also affected by the policy choices of the conservatoriums and other tertiary education establishments. Education policy, at another level, affects the quality of school music education in multiple ways.

Chart 2 is an attempt to show which of the driving forces interact most — strong mutual influences between culture and education, and considerable interaction between innovation and education and between education and infrastructure. In other cases the interaction may be stronger in one direction than the other, for example between culture and infrastructure. Though Chart 2 was created to provide a subjective “helicopter view”, to provide guidance to the actual scenario stories in A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios, it has stood up well in the scenario-writing process. It will also be useful for the subsequent work to reduce the subjective content through the statistical phase that follows, as described in the next paragraph.

The definition of these sets of specific drivers leads not only to better understanding of the current state of the music sector in 2015 and hence to more credible scenarios, but it places us within closer range of another goal of this project, to estimate what is approximately termed its contribution to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product.3 To achieve this we need to measure its current contribution in economic terms, which is indeed the next task in the scenario project to be followed by future estimates relating to each scenario story.

Towards the Final Objective

Before going on, let’s not forget the ultimate objective of this project. The scenarios have a dual purpose: to provide a basis for strategic conversation with stakeholders, and to make it possible to project the contribution of the music sector to the Australian economy under a range of assumptions. The first paper in the project, Putting Numbers on Our Cultural Assets: Not Yet Possible established that such projections could not be done in conventional GDP terms, because the future damage that culture may suffer had not been quantified.

Four types of assets govern the world’s economic and socio-cultural structure, but their political clout differs radically (see Cultural Capital as an Independent Economic Force for further detail). Climate change, technically associated with “natural capital”, is treated as a separate dot point to distinguish its development from general environmental aspects.

  • Physical capital is the conventional item which into the mid-20th century was not highly differentiated in mainstream economic theory. It in effect absorbed the portmanteau items land and labour as “factors of production”. “Neoclassical” economics based its theory on the assumption that homo economicus is a realistic creature whose preferences are invariably rational, always maximises its utility and profits, and is at all times fully informed. The theory was only occasionally supplemented by entrepreneurship reflecting the views of Joseph Schumpeter and others that technology is an intrinsic driver of economic growth and replacement of obsolete capital stock, with business and innovative abilities playing a pivotal role. Perhaps hard to comprehend today, classical economic theory generally held that technology was an external factor which was not part of the basic economic model, but “economic man” was.
  • In the 1960s Gary Becker (who subsequently received the Nobel Prize in Economics) greatly refined the classical labour concept. The basic argument was that human capital depends on (a) education and (b) technology and innovation — the latter providing a formal role for entrepreneurship. In GDP terms, the new concept of human capital could be conveniently added to the classical physical capital concept because it could be measured in similar terms — and for a long time there was no major attempt among economists to suggest that natural and cultural assets might be damaged by the effort to drive the economy as fast as possible. The economics of growth became a major topic soon after World War Two ended and the focus was on recovering from war and avoiding a recurrence of the 1930s depression — maintaining GDP growth still dominates economic policy despite some emerging danger signs.
  • Concerns nevertheless grew, especially from around 1970.4 Nature eventually came to be seen as much more than “land” to be exploited just as “labour” morphed into human capital. Natural capital, the third type, was born out of a growing realisation that Earth’s resources are finite; that the exploitation of natural resources should be explicitly shown, not just submerged into the economic model as a “factor of production”. The term “natural capital” was coined by E. F. Schumacher in 1973 in the now classic Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered.5 The 1987 Brundtland report for the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”6
  • Official concern for climate change goes back to 1979 when the first World Climate Conference organised by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) expressed concern that “continued expansion of man’s activities on Earth may cause significant extended regional and even global changes of climate”. In 1985 a conference organised by WMO and other organisations in Villach (Austria) assessed the role of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in climate variations and associated impacts. It concluded that “as a result of the increasing greenhouse gases it is now believed that in the first half of the next century (21st century) a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than in any man’s history.” The Brundtland report devoted significant space to the climate threat; the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 and published its first assessment in 1990, spurring governments to create the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ready for signature at the United Nations “Earth Summit”in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. International concern has grown from there, though the issue has tended to become a political football in many nations.
  • Cultural capital completes the quartet. The issues are similar to those facing natural capital, albeit at a smaller scale. Both are non-commercial entities that cannot be measured in economic terms. The scenario approach is offered as a possible solution for both, attempting to evaluate damage in economic terms in one particular scenario compared with another. David Throsby notes in On the Sustainability of Cultural Capital (2005) that the first attempt to extend the idea of sustainability to culture was in a UNESCO World Commission for Culture and Development report, Our Creative Diversity (1995) — merely 20 years ago. Summarising the issue in his paper, Throsby noted that while “by definition cultural capital is distinguished from physical capital by its embodiment and production of cultural value”, and “while the theoretical concept of a culturally sustainable development path defined according to explicit criteria may be an appealing one, it remains operationally constrained until robust value-assessment methods can be devised.” (Italics added.)

In short, there is currently no politically accepted measure such as GDP to challenge the impact of particular environmental and cultural policies. In addition, it is difficult to detect their impact in the short term. We might add that new findings, whether based on natural or social science, rarely become mainstream overnight, or even over 20 years.

This lack of measurability makes it difficult to demonstrate in conventional terms how both natural and cultural capital can be damaged by excessive or insensitive methods to promote growth. Realising this while writing Putting Numbers on Our Cultural Assets: Not Yet Possible turned us to scenario planning as a possible solution. Following the identification of the four sets of music sector drivers, needed to define the starting position for the 20-year scenarios, we can now provide a measure of future change associated with each of the four scenarios.

It will still lack a formal basis in GDP terms, which should eventuate through the final step in this project — a quantitative model of the music sector based on available statistics. We are working to develop this by mid-2015, which will conclude what will by then have become an 18-month project. It may not be in strictly conventional GDP terms but it is as robust an attempt to get close to that as any we know of, and for the first time it will cover an art form.

Summary of Findings to This Stage

  • The Australian music sector is part of a global system, embodying all activities associated with the art form of music.
  • Our four scenarios are based on two critical uncertainties: the world is either “progressive” or “reactionary”, and Australian culturally related policies including music and other arts are either “strong” or “weak”.7
  • To develop specific scenarios for the music sector requires an additional set of driving forces — capable of supporting sensible estimates — operating within the general environment defined by the global and general Australian scenarios (Chart 3).
  • The impact of some influences on the music sector is determined by the basic global and general Australian scenarios, and need not be reiterated as specific direct drivers of the sector. This includes economic influences, covered by the general scenario stories.
  • The specific driving forces for the music sector are labelled by the portmanteau terms “Culture”, “Education”, “Infrastructure”, and “Innovation”. Concentrating on these makes the whole scenario exercise practically possible with limited resources.
  • The driving forces are interdependent as indicated by the horizontal double-headed arrows, and reinforce one another.
  • One handicap that this project aims to reduce is the failure to date to estimate cultural damage in acceptable “GDP” terms. The whole Music Trust scenario project was undertaken with this in mind as discussed in Putting Numbers on Our Cultural Assets: Not Yet Possible.

We can now proceed to descriptions of the four specific driving forces — Culture, Education, Infrastructure, and Innovation.


Culture and the Music Sector

8 The place of arts and culture in Australia is generally considered strong, inspired by generations of newcomers over the past 200 years but for the past century or more dominated by home-grown contributions to all cultural fields. In a country of immigrants with a belated but growing respect for Indigenous culture and arts the base has been further strengthened.9 The cultural sector has been visualised as a set of concentric circles, drawn from the source description and reproduced with the author’s permission as Chart 4.

The “pie” has eight slices representing each UNESCO-defined cultural sector: Indigenous10, Heritage, Music, Performance, Screen, Visual, Writing and Design. The “cherry” at the centre represents exceptional original art of intrinsic value, great skill and originality. The next circle is “institutional”, which for music includes performances in places of national and local importance, and exports of works we consider especially valuable. The next layer is “instrumental” – music teaching and uses of music in health and other community settings which provide employment for many. The outermost circle represents the “industry of music” – the business of recording, performing, providing and selling music.11

“Each of these segments requires a different business model, a different way of measuring success and outcomes, a different way of engaging with the public sector and philanthropists, but each informs the other — there could be no industry without the intrinsic works, no institutional opportunities without the instrumental teaching fostering exceptional musicians and informed and knowledgeable audiences.”12 In short, the segments are interrelated.

Like the music sector concept we developed independently over several years, the concentric model embraces all musical activities which would include supporting infrastructure such as music organisations and legal services as part of the “instrumental” layer.13 We note, once again, interdependencies across the sector that support the finding that the four identified sets of drivers may offer different influences on the state of the music sector but each set reinforces the others.

Cultural Policy

This is supported by a major submission by the then Music Council of Australia, under the executive directorship of Richard Letts, during the latest process to update Australia’s national cultural policy.14 The policy was announced by then Arts Minister Simon Crean in March 2013 but was then aborted by a sequence of largely unrelated political events. In the paper quoted above, Julianne Schultz, who advised the Minister, argued the need for a change: “This diversity, and the richness it contributes both to the backstory of Australian identity and cultural expression and its contemporary manifestation, is enormously important. … We can confidently participate on a global stage and create cultural experiences that are unique and valued here. This is why the process of developing a national cultural policy now is important, and why it is a significantly different task to that which applied at the time of earlier interventions — the creation of the literature fund, the support for national companies and state orchestras, the ABC, the Australia Council, Film Australia, training institutions, all building to Creative Nation nearly twenty years ago.” Creative Nation, launched in October 1994, remains Australia’s first and only cultural policy to survive the political process.

The submission began with a broad discussion of cultural policy (“the enabling role of government with regard to culture”), but subsequent sections included weighty references to music education and infrastructure issues. Issues related to innovation prevail in many other sections. These are taken up under the ensuing headings below.

Preparing the music scenarios, we observed that whereas Australian culture is alive and generally well, the “package” of culturally related policies (arts, education and natural ecology) is still largely discretionary — the government can give them higher or lower priorities. Besides, their real impact only becomes visible in the medium to long term, making them less attractive in day-to-day politics. Government policy choices affect all manner of music-related regulations, subsidies and industry assistance, and whether cultural policy has a narrow or wide focus — say, focusing on the mainstream music industry in contrast to the broad cultural scope envisaged in the abandoned 2013 Cultural Policy.

The MCA’s proposal for a national cultural policy called for a definition of the intended meaning of “culture” (p 9). It compared two common meanings: culture is the arts, or it is “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, which is transmitted from one generation to another” (Macquarie Dictionary). This may be what cultural policy is ultimately helping to defend, but “a policy based upon the latter definition would be neither practicable nor desirable.” An arts policy in what was understood to be the Minister’s view is “one that gives increased emphasis to the instrumental role of the arts in enhancing outcomes in education, social inclusion, health and well-being, economic development and other areas and to secure financial and regulatory support from across government rather than through the arts portfolio alone.”

The MCA document again demonstrates the interrelations between culture and other driving forces (p 10): “The effectiveness of using the arts as instruments for positive outcomes will depend in most of these areas upon the level of achievement in the intrinsic artistic values. For music, sustainable export success will depend upon the highest level of musical and compositional achievement, not upon clever marketing of mediocrity.”

Economic success, in other words, depends on improved school music education drawing students to music classes, and on attracting visitors to exceptional performances by “highly imaginative, superlatively skilled performers.”

A discussion paper issued by Simon Crean’s predecessor as Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, noted: “Australian culture is produced by its people. The role of government is not to directly shape culture but to enable all Australians – whatever their background, beliefs and abilities – to explore and nurture their creativity and draw on the wealth of our culture to enrich us all.” The Music Council gave “enthusiastic support to this statement” but wondered, how does government best enable? (p 11)

“We suggest that complexity theory, theories of cultural evolution and of culture as a complex adaptive system can introduce a new wisdom into discussion of the best role for government as an enabling force.” (p 12, italics added)15

“We can make inferences or extrapolations from the theory of complex adaptive systems about the enabling role of government. It turns out that many of the normal activities of the Australian government in supporting culture, especially the grants system, are consistent with this theory. Cultural evolution will be healthier and more rapid if there is a diversity of artists, organisations, activities interacting with each other. The provision of funds for cultural activity adds energy to these interactions. … If the objective is to encourage innovation, policy direction should be as light as possible and the more diversity among the grantees, the better. Facilitation of contact among these diverse activities and of public exposure for them creates the conditions for even more innovation.”

This is not intended as a political document, but it is notable that the only legislative steps to form a national cultural policy were taken by Labor governments: Creative Nation was launched by Prime Minister Paul Keating in 1994, and the abandoned Crean cultural plan was prepared and introduced under Labor in 2013. It is noted that Australian Labor governments tend to be to include community arts and other broader activities. Coalition governments, at least in recent decades, allegedly take a narrower view of cultural matters, and tend to focus on large heritage companies.16

Cultural policy in essence is how to benefit from Australia’s cultural traditions and the physical and intangible infrastructure that has built up to support and develop our culture. The point was made at the beginning of this section that Australian culture is strong and developing but the implementation of the policies needed to nourish it (benefiting not just our cultural life but deriving economic and social value from it) is up against competing claims for attention.

Three Levels of Government

It is appropriate to consider the framework that has been built from Australian cultural policies to date. They are executed by all three levels of government, bearing in mind that the top level holds the purse-strings and state and local governments have other functions.

The role of the Australian federal government is complex. It sets cultural policies mostly for the direction of its own funding and associated regulations. The federal day-to-day role is to provide subsidies and other support to organisations and individuals in the cultural sector, through specialised institutions headed by the Australia Council, the bulk of whose funding goes to the state-based symphony orchestras and major performing companies including Opera Australia and the Australian Ballet. The Australia Council sets policies at arms’ length from the government, but the government ultimately determines the annual changes in its funding levels as we saw in the 2014-15 Budget, and directed the music funding towards the symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies, to the detriment of small innovative and creative ventures.17

In 2013-14, 51.3% of the Australia Council’s total funding of $199.2m went to 28 major organisations (nine orchestras, four opera companies, Musica Viva Australia, five dance companies, and nine (32%) theatre companies), and another 11.8% to 141 “key organisations” where the share of music and dance is only 20% (chamber music one, orchestras two, other music 12, and dance 13). The largest category is visual arts (37), followed by theatre (29), service (21), cross-art form (16), and publishing (10). — Of the total funding in 2013-14, $93.8m went to music, mainly to orchestras ($55.8m) followed by opera companies ($23.5m), leaving only $14.5m to other music (15.5% of total music).

Intellectual property laws and regulations are crucial in managing copyright piracy, exacerbated by digital imports dominated by the United States. Their relative ineffectiveness has helped trigger a crisis in the recording industry.18

Other culture-related regulatory issues associated with the Australian government include specific artist regulations for taxation, international trade agreements, and visa regulations for visiting artists who might otherwise displace Australian artists.

The role of the states and territories is circumscribed by their relations with the federal government. Intergovernmental relations are an essential component of any political system with more than one level of government. The Australian Constitution that entered into force in 1901 did not make much provision for intergovernmental relations, but governing became steadily more centralised as the requirements for macroeconomic policy and redistributions in the welfare state increased. The Commonwealth invariably raised more revenue that it could spend and fiscal transfers to the states became much more important. This has increased its power relative to the states to the extent that the peak body in the intergovernmental relations area, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) which consists of the prime minister, the six state premiers and the chief ministers of the two territories, calls the federal government’s shots without significant constitutional backing. The prime minister calls the meetings, sets the agendas and prioritises the policy issues.19

Nevertheless, state funding has increased relative to federal funding and the states run some independent arts support programs. There is pressure for collaboration between Commonwealth and states in arts funding. Perceptions of value tend to include the subjective so the assessors of funding applications on the two levels may have different responses which makes more diversity possible. States may also be concerned with meeting particular local needs, not visible to federal authorities.

In scenario-planning terms, there is room for improvement of the crucial relationship between Australia’s two top levels of government. Conversely, worse-case scenarios may contain no improvement, or even going further backwards given the trend towards centralisation.

A major share of all decisions related to physical facilities including concert halls and other large venues rests on the state and territory governments, as well as a fair role of funding through the state arts departments.

An understanding of intergovernmental relations is of obvious importance. So is the provision of physical facilities. Many agree that the Sydney Opera House caused a quantum change in the cultural life of Sydney and beyond. Similar effects, though not so spectacular nationally but of great local significance, could result from projects in outer metropolitan districts and major provincial cities – projects that are often funded by a collaboration between a state and a local government.

Which takes us to the third layer, local government. They may have been created within and by the states, with the same legal autonomy as defined by their respective states, but they have important independent roles – most evidently the major metropolitan areas but every local government area has some autonomy. Focusing on music and other performing arts:

  • Physical facilities may include performing arts centres, at least in the larger municipalities.
  • Local governments may encourage community arts activities, including festivals and other musical events.
  • Local governments may be facing increasing funding issues affecting the construction or renovation of arts-related physical structures.
  • It has been suggested that performing arts centres which seem difficult to maintain financially could be replaced by facilities more suited to enable community music making (including auxiliary facilities such as rehearsal studios).
  • Within the confines of state legislation and delegated through it, local government has a pivotal role in regulating all venues such as pubs and clubs where a crowd assembles for popular music performances or other events. Legislation has generally moved in favour of such performances, but is the future certain? For music, noise is a particular issue around licensed venues presenting live performances.

Pointers to Cultural Futures

Other relevant features for the assessment (again focusing on music):

Annual major performance data: Live Performance Australia’s annual ticket attendance and revenue survey of the 28 members of the Australian Major Performance Arts Group (AMPAG) includes eight symphony and five opera orchestras, and Musica Viva Australia — as well as five dance companies which are also music-related, and nine theatre companies which rely largely on the spoken word. The total revenue of these companies increased from an annual average, at 2013 values, of $1.05 billion in 2004-06 to $1.29 billion in 2013.20 During the same period, the share of contemporary music increased from 38.5% to 48.7%, while classical music lost share from 6.8% to 5.5% and opera from 6.6% to 3.4% (2004 was a particularly good year for opera but even excluding it the downward trend in share is evident). The decline in share was less drastic for ballet and dance (from 5.3% to 4.9%).21

Moreover, a special LPA/EY survey in 2012 showed that the AMPAG companies represented only 18.5% of the total revenue of the live performance industry, compared with about 66% for “large-scale venues and events” and almost 15% for “regional and metropolitan” events. Box office accounted for half the total revenue, while the other half was made up of government funding, corporate sponsorships and other revenue (donations, orchestra hire, royalties, merchandising, food and catering).22

The implication is that the scenarios must deal separately with at least four different performance categories: art music, Indigenous music, world/ethnic music, and popular contemporary music. All are part of multicultural Australia.

Subsidies and other support: Cultural subsidy is given by governments to sustain activities which cannot survive from the market alone and are considered to be of special cultural value. A common reason for lack of financial viability in cultural activities is their high labour costs; while they may participate in the technological efficiencies of the age, these may not replace labour costs as they do in other industries.23

Support from the federal government has been drying up since 2000-01, and this trend worsened in the 2014-15 Budget which contained forward estimates up to 2017-18. 24

This includes the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s public broadcaster. Funding restrictions have hit particularly hard at the classical music network ABC Classic FM, which was forced to reduce its programs by half following the 2014-15 Budget. The ABC is playing a generally reduced leadership role in the art music area where it was once in the forefront, among other initiatives having founded and managed six state symphony orchestras and several major choirs, commissioned and performed works by Australian art music composers and played an important role in music education. It no longer does most of these things.

The restrictions imposed on art music culminating in the 2014-15 Budget contrasts with the continuing preferential managerial treatment of the ABC’s contemporary music network, Triple J, which has remained dynamic and imaginative in the face of competition from the commercial broadcasters.25 Both the ABC music networks are important for the continued flowering of Australian culture, and their status in each of the four music sector scenarios must be defined.

Australian content: A survey of planned performances in 2014 found that only between 2% and 13% of works played by the major orchestras were Australian, and only one opera of 35 staged was Australian in five major opera companies.26

Community music: Community choirs appear to be alive and well. The Australian National Choral Association (ANCA) has over 1,000 members Australia wide, with the majority being choirs. ANCA has choirs representing nearly every age, style and genre. A survey in 2012-13 confirmed that they make major contributions, many on a shoestring budget, to local community life. Almost all the Australian choirs in the survey sing Australian music.27

There are also an estimated 130-170 community orchestras, perhaps more — another positive influence in local communities. Over half of those surveyed commissioned Australian music or had a member of the group compose it. Classical music was played by the largest proportion of orchestras but each of them played many styles including contemporary, multicultural, baroque and Australian music.28

Some years ago, Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre (in partnership with other organisations) launched Sound Links to highlight the importance and diversity of community music activities in Australia. The six selected locations included a middle-class outer suburban location (Dandenong Ranges, Victoria), a large established regional city (Albany, Western Australia), a small rural town (McLaren Vale, South Australia), a culturally diverse urban area (Fairfield City, New South Wales), a remote Indigenous setting (Borroloola, Northern Territory), and an urban Indigenous setting (lnala, Queensland).29

Some community festivals also have significant Indigenous links including Moorambilla Voices, an unusual undertaking which since 2006 has provided children and teens from outback NSW with an opportunity to work alongside professional musicians and participate in high-level music making and performance.30

Indigenous Music: Gillian Harrison has lived and worked for over 20 years in the Northern Territory mainly in the arts, particularly the music industry and with Aboriginal musicians. Her classical case study From Outstation to Out There (2003) describes Nabarlek, a group of musicians from a tiny remote community in Arnhem Land , and the infrastructure that supports Indigenous musicians in the Northern Territory. Other references might be added, but the Harrison study remains representative.

Didgeridoo artist William Barton and his songwriting mother Aunty Delmae Barton are outstanding examples of musicians who have successfully bridged the gap between Australian art music and Indigenous art.

Popular Music: Quite apart from the major growth recorded for the major LPA organisations, many musicians play in bands in venues such as pubs and clubs. In 2011, three surveys all returned estimates of total revenue from these activities in the billion dollar range nationally. These surveys were practically the first indication of the economic value of these popular music gigs.31

Jazz: The quality and variety of jazz in Australia has probably never been greater. The inclusion of jazz in the curricula of major tertiary music schools may have had some influence, but few players make a good living from their sessions.32

Other genres: This would apply to country, folk, Indigenous, world and other music performance as well, as we generally know from other surveys and published statistics. The typical income distribution has a long tail with few individuals in each bracket, and the bulk of performers earning modest to very low incomes from their music. There is a large gap between the impact they have on Australian culture and social life, and the economic wellbeing of musicians whose income from their art is entirely commercially based.

Cultural diversity: The ethnic mix of Australia’s population has increased enormously over the past 40 years. While this can lead to conflicts (a tiny minority with bad outcomes as we all know from recent experience), there is a view that affinity and attraction lead people of diverse origin together via “cultural diasporas” in urban Australia, international travel and study, and the Internet and social media.33 This would clearly be part of a best-case scenario.

Globally, the UN Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) has two basic intentions. The first is to give each country the right to “cultural sovereignty” – that is, to protect and promote its own culture or cultures as it sees fit. The second intention is to encourage countries to foster cultural diversity within their own borders. So why do we need a Convention to achieve these two objectives? First, there seems to be general agreement that cultural diversity is a good thing but that it is threatened by various changes in the contemporary world. Secondly, people and countries want to find some way to keep their own culture alive and that can seem to depend upon subduing the influx of foreign songs.34

Technology poses a threat to the international diversity of music, greatly exacerbated over the past 20 years with the almost simultaneous emergence in 1995 of the World Wide Web and the MP3 encoding format for digital audio.35 This is possibly the strongest link between two of the four driving forces identified for the music sector, Culture and Technology.



The reader is again reminded that the purpose of this paper is to define the current state of the music sector, not to specify remedies. The main role of the scenario stories that follow in A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios is to demonstrate how unfavourable future developments might be mitigated by adopting appropriate policies over the next 10-20 years. That’s why all scenario planning is based on a set of cases ranging from plausible “best” to plausible “worst”, all at least theoretically capable of being influenced through policy measures. To do so, we have to describe the various futures of the music sector that would emerge under the four scenarios, just as we are working towards describing the current situation in this paper. We can then compare the outcome of each scenario with the state of affairs in 2015.

Referring back to the illustrative Chart 2 (click to view), the set of driving forces defined as Education appears to have:

  • Strong mutual links with Culture
  • Nearly as strong mutual links with Innovation
  • Significant mutual links with Infrastructure.

All three pairs of links are reciprocal, and the flows to and from Education look equally strong for each pair. Education appears to be the most interlinked of the four sets of driving forces we identified for the scenarios. Each of the four forces may have positive and negative elements — as we work first towards defining the present situation in 2015, the net effect of the main elements can be determined. Once this is reasonably well established, it should then be possible to define the impact of each of the four distinct scenarios in sufficient detail (which can be expanded at a later stage if needed).

The dimensions of the driving force are best expressed in terms of level and type of education:

  • Early childhood music
  • Primary and secondary school music
  • Conservatoriums and other tertiary music education.
  • Following the cultural policy submission prepared by the Music Council of Australia36, we then add studio music teaching, community music education, and other education of professional musicians, managers and others that fall outside music education but still has to be met. Additional items refer to other sources which may provide pointers to the future.

Early Childhood

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for the national curriculum from kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) in specific learning areas, and for associated national assessment and data collection programs.

These responsibilities do not formally embrace preschool, but strengthening early childhood education became part of ACARA’s national initiatives and achievements listed in its 2010 report on schooling in Australia, after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) had pronounced early childhood education and development to be a priority. This reflected the unanimous agreement of all federal, state and territory ministers in the so-called 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

The two goals for the young people were: (1) to promote equity and excellence, and (2) to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. One of the components of the second goal was to strengthen early childhood education:

”Children who participate in quality early childhood education are more likely to make a successful transition to school, stay longer in school, continue on to further education and fully participate in employment and community life as adults. Support for Indigenous children in the early years before school is particularly important to ensure a successful transition to schooling, which may involve a culturally different learning environment.” (p 11)

The Melbourne Declaration noted: “The curriculum will enable students to develop knowledge in the disciplines of English, mathematics, science, languages, humanities and the arts“ (italics added).

The Australian government earmarked $970m over five years to 30 June 2013, of which $955m was allocated straight to the states and territories. By the end of the period, all children would have access to a quality early childhood education delivered by a four-year university-trained early childhood teacher over 40 weeks @ 15 hours in the year before full-time schooling. Music was not specified as such but the emphasis was clearly on preparation for school rather than child care.

The current statistical evidence suggests that the goal set for 2013 in 2008 may not have been met, but is getting closer. The latest survey of the early education and care (ECEC) workforce (2013) shows that 4,641 preschools and 4,312 long day care centres had a preschool program, 99.7% based on a curriculum which for 92% of preschools and 94% of long day care centres was either wholly or partly the standard Early Years Learning Program. The additional programs were mainly state and territory curricula or frameworks.

Between 2010 and 2013, the proportion of preschools offering preschool programs increased from 97.3% to 99.8%, and long day care centres from 92.8% to 99.6%. The 2013 survey, however, also shows that 37% of preschool staff worked 1-19 hours in the week surveyed, and another 35% 20-34 hours. Only 28% worked full-time — 35 hours or more. The staff in long day care centres, as might be expected, worked longer hours – just over half of them 35 hours or more. Only 16% of their staff worked less than 20 hours and another 32% between 20 and 35 hours.

There is no information in the workforce survey that can be used to check whether the 15 hours weekly target has been met.

The proportion of staff with four-year bachelor or higher qualifications increased by 18% in preschools between 2010 and 2013, and by 59% in long day care centres. There is no explanation in the workforce survey report of why the increase in preschools was by far the highest for staff with other ECEC-related fields at diploma and – especially – certificate level. It almost amounts to a structural change in staffing where it might have been expected that the trend would have been convincingly towards higher qualifications, as indeed was the case in the long day care centres delivering preschool programs.37

In conclusion, the status of preschools appears to have improved but the jury is still out on whether the targets set in 2008 were attained by 2013. The general health of preschools is a precondition for the use of music in the preschool program, which is considered important for the health of school music education, as outlined below. However, preschools can be classified as a social service rather than education, which actually happened in 2014 when the Australian government moved them from the Department of Education to Social Services. This carries the risk that education becomes a side issue.38

Up to now we have dealt with the preschool end of early childhood education which is delivered by childcare workers. It extends into the foundation years of school between kindergarten and Year 2.

The Music Council’s submission in 2011 which was quoted at length in the previous section on Culture notes that the Melbourne Declaration was not specific on music though it mentioned “the arts”: “In the case of music, this commitment needs to extend through the early childhood years.” It noted that all Australian governments have made a commitment to the design and implementation of a national music curriculum in schools throughout the school years. ACARA agrees that this curriculum will be sequential, developmental and continuous.

Summarising the submission, its case for including music from early childhood by implication demonstrates the shortcomings of the current situation, which is it the purpose of this paper to define as concisely as possible.

  • Specific musical abilities develop sequentially in early life and such development will be impaired or fail if the abilities are not stimulated. Most families are music consumers rather than informal domestic music-makers, putting the onus on the education system.
  • Later musical development depends upon the basis laid in early childhood. This is important to the general well-being of the populace and also to the artistic and economic success of the Australian professional music sector.
  • The main obstacle to the delivery of an effective music program in the early childhood context is the lack of music skills in the carers and teachers.
  • The mandatory pre-service music education in the university degrees of early childhood teachers is tokenistic. With as little as an average nine hours of music education, they are charged with teaching music for an age span crossing the early childhood years including the foundation school years K-2.
  • Teachers with adequate musical training use music in a multitude of ways including scaffolding children’s learning in academic and social skills. The research shows that music is used with great frequency in these circumstances.
  • Parents can play an important role in music and other education. Research shows a sharp decline in parental involvement in music making and musical activity with their children. Musically skilled preschool teachers can educate parents along with children in the preschool setting.

These observations point to a situation where opportunities have been lost, although music remains a central component of children’s play, and is encouraged by early childhood education centres. But there are positives though not necessarily universal through the Australian society:

  • The quality of early music education is probably improving as the proportion of better educated early childhood workers increased as a result of the funding following the Melbourne Declaration.
  • There is greater public appreciation that preschool and other early childhood services are important.
  • There are very good preschools where music is an integral ingredient, but they are unlikely to be equitably distributed between rich and poor, urban and rural communities.

The importance of music in early childhood development is spelled out in the MCA submission. Here is a brief summary with some additional references attached (again, it highlights the shortcomings of the current state of affairs by implication):

  • Research overwhelmingly shows that music is both a “biological predisposition and a cultural universal”, to quote the submission.
  • It has been apparent for a decade that human beings are hardwired for musical experience from infancy. The brain’s basic architecture is built over time in a process that begins before birth and continues through to adulthood. The brain is built over a succession of “sensitive periods”. These sensitive periods are associated with the formation of specific circuits that are associated with specific abilities.39
  • Music education has many additional benefits in other domains of young children’s learning and development. Involvement in music experiences has been demonstrated to facilitate the development of literacy and language skills in young children. Engagement in music programs has been shown to benefit many other areas of young children’s development, for instance spatial-temporal reasoning in elementary school aged children and preschool children.40
  • Early childhood teachers have noted that when engaged in music activities the children in their care developed motor skills, increased socialization, released pent up energy, provided a mode for self-expression, and focused their listening skills.41
  • All children are born with the innate ability to respond to music and to develop musically. However, without the right nurturing, musical ability will stall. Therefore it is vital that those involved in young children’s growth – namely parents and educators – understand their musical development and know ways that they can nurture this very powerful form of communication and being. Music is something to be fostered in all young children.
  • If early childhood educators are exposed to appropriate musical skills and practices for young children, they can see the benefits of including music in their programs. They would be bound to include music frequently in their day. If the teachers are trained, there is no extra cost in delivering music to the children.

In summary, research shows that there are sensitive periods in early childhood for particular aspects of brain development associated with specific skills. These include musical skills. If skills are not acquired in those sensitive periods, the opportunity may be permanently foregone.

Because of the structure of the brain, development of non-musical skills can be a corollary of brain developments stimulated by development of musical skills.

Music Trust research into the musical education of accomplished Australian professional musicians shows that most began formal music education in their early childhood years.42

As described, Australian governments have made a commitment to arts education for every child. However, in practice, the execution of the commitment is highly variable. The majority of primary school children in 2015 receive no music education provided by government, although the situation varies greatly between states.

At the Commonwealth level, the recent removal of early childhood childcare from the Education portfolio to Social Services would appear to reduce the responsibility for educational provision from these programs.

The most important impediment to provision of music education to young children is the lack of music education of their teachers and carers.

On average, early childhood teachers and carers receive only a token education in music in their pre-service courses. While some may have acquired skills through other means, the great majority lack the knowledge to deliver a music curriculum. There is no general testing of the musical competencies of children.

Assuming that these competencies are to a large extent acquired only through an orderly music education, we can conjecture that most young Australian children lack them.

This has important potential consequences: the ability of Australian audiences for skilled, discriminating music listening is impaired and their demands on musicians are less than they might be; secondly, many children do not realise their musical potential because of a lack of music education in early childhood and this can translate into lower accomplishment and international success for Australian music; thirdly, there is a parallel consequence with regard to the non-musical abilities whose development is accelerated through early music education.

The provision and quality of early childhood music education therefore are factors in deciding best and worst case scenarios for the music sector.

Primary and Secondary Schools

The discussion paper that invited submissions for the proposed 2013 cultural plan set forward high aspirations for the Australian arts, producing to the highest international standards and earning Australia global admiration and financial rewards. This can only happen if a high quality arts education is provided to Australians from their earliest years.43

The way that music is taught in schools varies across each of the three jurisdictions (publicly funded, Catholic and independent) in each of the eight states and territories, with additional variations depending upon the prerogatives exercised by individual schools. The independent schools are not really part of systems and so are free to make their own decisions.

In most public and Catholic systems, primary school music instruction is the responsibility of generalist classroom teachers. For the most part the primary generalist teachers are incapable of delivering a music curriculum.44Queensland and Tasmania are the exceptions. In Queensland, 87% of its primary schools employ specialist classroom music teachers. Queensland also offers an instructional program in playing musical instruments, which reaches about 11% of all primary and secondary students.45 In Tasmania, schools are allocated staff based on student numbers, and can then decide how to use the staff resource. Despite the voluntary basis, the vast majority of primary schools choose to employ a specialist music teacher.46

In all jurisdictions, secondary school music instruction is delivered by specialists, and instrumental music is taught in almost 90% of government secondary schools in Victoria and Queensland and almost half in Western Australia. This contrasts with the NSW state school system of which only the Conservatorium High School in Sydney offers instrumental teaching.47

The mandatory music training in the undergraduate degree for primary school teachers is 17 hours out of the total 1,250 hours in a four-year degree, according to MCA research. Many now secure a teacher qualification through two-year post-graduate awards in which the average music education provision is around 10 hours. This purports to prepare teachers to deliver the music curriculum over the seven primary school years.

Extrapolating from a Music Council research paper published in 2003, only 23% of public schools offer a sequential, developmental, continuous (that is, effective) music education program, as compared with 88% of independent schools. Presumably the reason for the enormous inequity is teacher incapacity.48 In affluent areas, public school parents raise money to provide the music education after school that the state has failed to provide, notably instrument playing. So at high school graduation it is mainly the students from families from such areas who have received the music education that might qualify them for tertiary music education. The inequity therefore extends beyond childhood.

Since 2000, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has conducted a triennial survey to rank participating countries according to school performance in mathematics, reading and science (based on 15-year old students). In 2012, 18 of 63 participating countries plus Shanghai and Hong Kong ranked higher than Australia on average maths score: eight in Asia including the seven top positions led by Shanghai, nine in Europe, and Canada.49

Internationally, Australia appears to be lagging behind on matters such as pre-service education of teachers. Only 17 hours of mandatory hours are offered on average to students in Australia, compared with 270 hours in Finland and 160 in Korea, countries that both beat Australia on PISA scores.50

The 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians was noted in connection with early childhood education as a statement of national commitment with regard to school education. It introduced a national curriculum to enable students to develop knowledge in the disciplines of English, mathematics, science, languages, humanities and the arts, to understand the spiritual, moral and aesthetic dimensions of life, and open up new ways of thinking.

The National Review of School Music Education of 2005 predates the Melbourne Declaration, but the music education community places more weight on it than anything that has yet emerged from the national curriculum. It is important mainly because it presents an opportunity to address a crisis in arts education. Those associated with the National Review found music education to have been in long decline to the point of collapse.

The arts were included in the national curriculum only after active lobbying. It is in a lower tier of subjects relative to English, mathematics and science and to a lesser extent history and geography. There is a separate curriculum for each of five art forms: dance, drama, media arts, music and visual arts. The music curriculum seems generally well accepted by teachers but the notional teaching times proposed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for the arts are tokenistic.

The expected outcomes to be achieved via these instruction times are unrealistic. For instance, the music goals for years 5-6 are that primary school children will be able to arrange, compose, improvise and perform music, both singing and playing instruments, able to read and write music, listen to music identifying key features and making informed judgments, all in a variety of styles and genres, and utilise recording and other technologies. The suggested assignment of time and resources does not match these outcomes, not is there any realistic plan in any jurisdiction to train generalist teachers to be able to deliver the curriculum nor, except in Queensland and de facto in Tasmania.

Related issues

Musical pedagogies should compete on merit. In Australia, pedagogical innovation is not vigorous at the systemic level. Innovation is important not only for its direct consequences but because the opportunity to innovate encourages an inquiring spirit and a dynamism in the system. The effectiveness of the system will determine the quality of its outputs.

There is high official interest in building an innovative economy. The arts are traditionally thought of as creative and there are assumptions that an arts education fosters creativity in students. There is little research that attempts to demonstrate a transfer of creative ability in the arts to creativity in other areas. However, an OECD study found that a high percentage of occupants of highly innovative job positions are arts graduates. In music, we can conjecture that musical creativity will develop in the educational setting only if encouraged. Often, it is not.

People give personal loyalty to their musical genres of choice, the musical languages that speak to them. Which genres depends upon personal history and circumstances. The passionate investment in a genre can be invoked for educational purposes. This applies to all genres – the great diversity of living musical genres in Australia is an aid to musical innovation via hybridisation.

It is important that students study and perform Australian music, along with music from elsewhere, so that they understand that we too create music. They are Australians and they can create music. Australian music can tell our stories.

Schools should impart a familiarity with the diversity of cultures in Australia, not least the cultures around them. There is great potential for using the music of different cultures to assist in student retention of geographical, historical and anthropological information. Diversity can flow from innovation and from the development of regional artistic voices. Encouraged by artistic freedom, Australia could become an important world source of ethnically based innovative music.

There is no art form that so early and so completely embraced digital technology, using it at every step of the way from musical creation to delivery to the listener. Indeed, technology has dramatically disrupted the music industry in ways that are well known. Schools are of course equipping themselves with the new digital technologies and no doubt that presents challenges to teachers of all subjects. In music, the challenge is especially keen because the technologies pervade every aspect of the process of producing and distributing music as well as instructing in it. It is essential that systems and schools support teachers by providing equipment, maintaining it, and upgrading musical and pedagogical skills. There are endless possibilities for combining music with other art forms in computer-generated production.

Education and success

A survey of demonstrably successful musicians51 shows that 90% had taken music lessons, 64% by age 10 and 70% by age 12. Only half reported that their primary school had a good music program and the lowest percentage by far came in the youngest age group, which attended primary school in the period 1988 to 2002. While 73% said that their secondary school had a good music program, half the respondents said their primary schools had poor or no music programs (23% none). Strikingly, 77% attended primary schools with a music program, whereas only 37% of primary schools have classroom music so it appears that the parents may have sought out musical schools. Parents also almost certainly had to pay for private music lessons — a possibility unavailable to families who are not affluent.

At the secondary level, twice as many attended independent schools as might be expected and younger respondents were much more likely than older respondents to do so, reflecting a flight to independent schools which offer rich music programs. The net outcome, again, is inequality.

Summing up

Some Australians receive an excellent music education and become brilliant performers and composers. But many opportunities are lost because there is no way to compensate for inadequate primary education. Most of those with responsibility for teaching music in schools have not been educated to do so; in some systems those responsible do not acknowledge that this makes them incapable to meet their commitments, and they have no plans to rectify the situation. This aggravates the inequality with consequent loss of opportunity for many students.

Tertiary Music Education

According to research in support of the MCA submission in 2011, quoted extensively in the culture and education sections of this paper, around 5,000 students are enrolled in 98 award programs for the education of practising musicians, excluding TAFE colleges.

The Commonwealth has responsibility for funding tertiary education, and therefore the education both of artists and of arts teachers. The Labor Party discussion paper concerning funding of the universities set as one of the criteria the achievement of international standards of tuition and student achievement. Labor’s discussion paper inviting submissions for the 2013 cultural plan also stated the government’s ambition that Australian arts practice achieves the highest level of achievement recognised internationally and that Australia is rewarded both economically and through international acknowledgement of its culture.

Frankly, these words are cheap and the achievement of international standards is not. Labor did not act on the recommendations concerning university funding and was voted out before it could implement the cultural plan. The cultural plan was not adopted by the Coalition government elected in 2013. The ambition to achieve international standards should be a permanent fixture but while the Coalition Minister for Education has spoken supportively of arts education in private meetings, he has taken no more than token action to improve it, let alone achieve international standards.

There are two areas of interest for this discussion: the education of musical artists, and the music education of school teachers, especially for primary schools.

Both have suffered since the restructuring of the university sector in 1988 by John Dawkins as Commonwealth Minister for Education. 52 The conservatoriums that trained musicians and composers were, in many cases, stand-alone institutions; they were obliged to merge with universities. One of Dawkins’s main objectives was to open up tertiary institutions to more students and the student population, including the music student population, has greatly expanded. However, there was never a proportionate increase in funding.

For the music schools to continue programs at the level pertaining before the mergers, they needed comparable funding. Under the new arrangements, their funding did not suffice and required internal cross-subsidies by their host institutions. Ever since, those schools and departments receiving this internal subsidy have been regarded as operating at a loss and there has been continuing pressure to balance the books.

The main possible response is to lower costs by reducing the instructional programs. This is evident especially with regard to provision of individual instruction in instrumental or vocal performance, crucial to training top level artists. Since 1988, the total number of teaching contact hours in music in at least some institutions has halved. At Melbourne University they declined from 1,105 hours in 1992 to 556 hours in 2011. This is well below the provision at high level music schools internationally and must leave Australian graduates at a career disadvantage.

One-to-one instruction is a key success factor in the education of performing musicians and composers. Information from four main Australian conservatoriums (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) showed the number of one-to-one hours of instruction per year ranged between 18 and 28, for a teaching year that barely covered half of the weeks. The numbers for high level institutions in Europe ranged from 39 to 51 hours per year. The number of weeks of instruction ranged up to 36.

Australian music graduates emerge into a world that demands international standards of accomplishment. Some migrate to larger markets where of course they must meet international competition directly. But even if they stay in Australia, they perform for Australian audiences that are also familiar with international standards through media exposure, tours of Australia by foreign artists and their own overseas touring. Some students achieve those standards, often through postgraduate study or experience overseas. In a small survey of the Australian Chamber Orchestra seven of the nine respondents had undertaken postgraduate study, but only one of them in Australia.53

Funding clusters determine the resourcing of particular areas of learning and how it is split between the annual maximum student contribution for a student place under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, and the Australian government’s contribution. There are eight such clusters. The visual and performing arts are currently part of Cluster 5, along with social sciences, languages and some other classroom-based disciplines which have quite different cost bases. The total resourcing for 2015 was set at $18,004, of which the Australian government contributes $11,852 (as though music is taught in classes to 50 at a time). Cluster 8, the highest, includes dentistry, medicine and veterinarian science ($31,651, of which $21,385 from the government). Music has more in common with these other professions through the need for more individual approaches.54

The costs associated with the essential one-to-one and small-group instruction are not the only factor. There are other costs of providing opportunities for performance, involving special facilities and equipment, the specialised nature of the required building and performance facilities, the special nature of IT and audio-visual requirements, the provision of musical instruments and equipment including pianos, and administrative needs not found in other disciplines such as individual management of students with regard to auditions, assignments to ensemble or roles, and assessment of performances by panels.

An undergraduate degree from an Australian music institution is not always sufficient preparation for professional life. It is known that graduates emerge into a world of work with little but their musical expertise, innocent of skills that will enable them better to manage their careers and business affairs. Also, postgraduate study should be offered and funded at a level that does not impose a debt burden that is too difficult to manage, given the expected professional income.

Because of the financial situation of our tertiary music institutions, they routinely oblige their faculty members to transfer time from research to increased teaching duties. This disadvantages the music faculty members in maintaining the vitality of their practice and progress in their careers, and it disadvantages the institutions in their claims to contribute to the academic enterprise. Insofar as their funding depends on their research output, a bad situation is made worse. The institutions are less attractive to prospective faculty members, especially those in countries where research time is honoured.55

The crucial issues in tertiary music education are quality and adequacy, along with the relevance of the content. To a large extent, resolution of these issues depends upon adequacy of expenditure per student. Essentially, the present government would enable adequate expenditure per student by permitting universities to charge more. This imposition would be ameliorated by increasing the funding of student loans but they are to be repaid, and the total amount of the loans would bear only a distant relationship to the prospective income of most graduates.

The most favourable future scenario would see government funding per music student increase to a level that supports an internationally competitive education at reasonable cost to the student. This outcome would also solve the other issues around faculty standards and responsibilities, the place of the music schools in the universities and so on, as detailed above.

Less favourable scenarios would see continued pressure on the music schools to reduce costs, resulting in further reductions in the program offerings, further rises in student fees, continuing difficulty with faculty teaching loads and research opportunities.

The follow-on consequences will affect the success of aspiring musicians and Australia’s international standing and export prospects in music.

This exposition of the difficulties with Australian university music education should not obscure its strengths. It does produce some fine musicians who go on to high achievement within Australia and internationally. There has been diversification from what was once more or less a single model for all conservatoriums, teaching only classical music. Most now also teach jazz, some teach contemporary popular music, others have added ethnomusicology or music technology. The boundaries are shifting even more with expansion among private institutions and changes in the TAFE sector. The result is greater complexity of choice which may be bewildering but provides students with a better opportunity for pursuing a career appropriate for them. For example, a student realising that his real ambition is to be an audio engineer may discover that the appropriate course is offered by a private provider or a TAFE college.

Educating teachers to teach music

John Dawkins converted all of Australia’s Colleges of Advanced Education to universities in 1988. The CAEs supplanted the teachers’ colleges and so became the main providers of teacher education. It should be noted that the music education of primary school classroom teachers takes place for the most part in university schools of education, not in the conservatoria, and the circumstances are quite different and the music education costs much lower.

In NSW teachers’ colleges, all trainee primary school teachers were expected to be able to play a musical instrument. Their pre-service training provided 200 contact hours in music education. This compares, as already noted, with an average of 17 hours now in the undergraduate degree for primary school classroom teachers.

The decision about how much music education to provide has been the prerogative of each university. They claim that they do not have the resources to increase the provision. The teacher accreditation bodies have not sought to regulate the amount of provision of arts education skills, although they are not so carefree about subjects to which they actually do give importance.

After decades of drastic under-education in music, we have a primary school workforce most of which has the responsibility but not the skills to deliver a music curriculum. To rectify this would be an enormous logistical and financial problem. Each of perhaps 150,000 teachers would need about 100 hours of professional development. In the Music Trust’s view, the most feasible solution is to provide each primary classroom with a weekly music class of about 45 minutes taught by a music specialist. This would require the production by universities of a substantial number of primary music specialists. This is not now happening but it is possible, especially if it is known that employment is on offer.

There is movement to change the structure for the preparation of primary school teachers: they would take an initial specialist degree in, for instance, music, followed by a two-year master’s degree in education. This could offer hope for primary school music education.

Because all subjects at secondary school level, including music, are taught by subject area specialists who have received specialist training in universities, the situation is more satisfactory and subject to the normal variations in school commitment and teacher competence. However, to delay the commencement of music instruction until the secondary years is to ignore crucial aspects of the developmental process. Also, because there is such wide variation in provision in the primary years, secondary school music teachers face a class of new entrants with an impossibly wide range of musical skills, from negligible to highly competent. How would one effectively teach a class in which some members are reading Shakespeare and others have not yet learned the alphabet? Seriously.


The universities can get away with their major underperformance in the arts education of primary school teachers because state government accreditation authorities allow it. The reasons they allow it relate to their own valued and priorities and the need to decide where to allocate resources. The cumulative consequence is that the workforce is essentially not educated to be able to deliver an acceptable curriculum in music or the other arts.

There is no plan in any state to remedy the under-education in music of the primary school generalist teachers. Queensland does not need such a plan because it already uses specialist music teachers, although the other arts are not so favoured. There is no plan for improved pre-service education in music for generalist teachers, nor any for the teachers who are already in the classroom. There are some small initiatives which will see the education of a small number of teachers and their protagonists are hoping that these will succeed and multiply. The best practical prospect at the moment is that an increasing number of school principals will use discretionary funds to hire part-time specialist music teachers.

There is an unusual level of focus on this issue and one can sense the possibility for gradual improvement, but only provided that the schools have sufficient discretionary funds available. It should be noted that the Victorian government is taking steps to improve provision; if successful, they may influence other state governments. The mood in support of music education could, however, be extinguished by the financial difficulties of governments at all levels, difficulties which at this time seem likely to extend well into the future.


One of the “classical” articles on the Knowledge Base, from 2002, was written by British authority Peter Renshaw (originally for the MCA journal Music Forum) — Remaking the Conservatorium Agenda. The challenge for music training institutions is much the same the world over, it says. If the whole training sector within different countries is to engage with the continually changing demands of the 21st century, it needs to address certain key questions, inter alia:

  • How far does music education and training reflect the diverse reality of the music industry — and that of contemporary musicians and audiences?
  • To what extent are training institutions preparing their musicians to function effectively within a portfolio culture that embraces the four central roles of composer, performer, leader and teacher?
  • Does the content of courses, and the environment in which students learn, produce the kind of musicians who will be able to thrive and adapt within a multi-stranded industry?
  • How far is the training sector reappraising its patterns of organization and the scope and diversity of its courses in order to respond to the wide range of musical genres and artistic practice within the music industry?
  • What measures are being taken to facilitate greater collaboration between those people working in different musical genres, across art forms, and in related professional disciplines?
  • Is there sufficient access to higher level courses for talented musicians of any genre, whatever their educational, social or ethnic background?
  • How effective and accessible are the opportunities for musicians to pursue research and continuing professional development?
  • How far should training institutions be developing strategic partnerships which would enable them to become a flexible resource for the music industry, for education and the wider community, within a local, regional, national and global context?

And the overriding question that we must ask as scenario planners: How well suited and prepared are Australian tertiary music institutions in 2015 to take on the challenge of change? They have been weakened by inadequate funding in particular but the university-based institutions are still functioning and there are new things happening both within these institutions and because other parts of the education structure, including the private sector, are awakening to new opportunities. There are still powerful links between tertiary music education and Australian culture, as per the illustrative Chart 2, and it involves a growing range of Australian music genres. Realistically, it may be made to recover and flourish, or it may flounder further.

Other Ways of Improving and Integrating Music Education

Private Studio Music Teachers:56 Much important music education in Australia is in the hands of studio music teachers in private practice. No qualification is required to offer services as a private music teacher. The “variable” standards among these teachers is the cause of some current discomfort.

Many studio teachers belong to professional associations such as the state music teacher associations or for particular instruments or singing. A best-practice accreditation regime could be introduced and promoted so that the public and the industry understand the value of accreditation and make choices accordingly. The scheme should require accredited teachers to maintain accreditation by undertaking professional development activities on a regular basis. This also will lift standards over time.

If the scheme has quality and integrity, it could be used by schools to identify studio teachers to fill employment positions for which their skills are suited

Community Music Education: Music education is offered formally and informally in many ways at the community level. This is the base of the musical pyramid, along with school music education — at the community level, it is open to all ages and tastes. But community music education does not operate only at the base of the pyramid. This pyramid is complete. For example, there are school and community children’s orchestras and at a higher level, the city or state youth orchestras and arguably, at the national level, the Australian Youth Orchestra. Gondwana Voices, the national children’s choir of Australia, sits on top of a similar pyramid.

Many bands, choirs, orchestras, music theatre groups and others are seen through the public eye as performers but before the performances there may be intensive educational activity. At a more overtly formal level, there are the regional conservatoriums or community music schools which could receive better government endorsement and assistance as part of a national cultural policy.

Also, we may expect that instruction may reach community based programs in the regions via the National Broadband Network. There may be a role for government in assisting provision of the technical facilities to receive this instruction in spaces suited to musical activity.

Commonwealth support of sport begins with to the grassroots and follows through to the Olympic level and the Australian Institute of Sport. It could conceive a similar role in music. The sport strategy takes in, for instance, the organisation of junior sporting clubs and competitions — a complex patchwork.

Throughout Europe, “municipal music schools”57 are an important element in musical and civic life. Their programs are based around individual instrumental and vocal instruction. While operated by local government, they are heavily subsidised by national government. For the most part, the student or parent pays at most a low fee. Often the local public school offers classroom music, ensembles and so on, and the instrumental instruction is provided by the municipal music schools.

The schools provide a professionally friendly environment for musicians and so can attract a more musically skilled workforce than might be possible for the schools, especially in the regions. The teachers, out of hours, are likely to build the musical life in the region whether through establishing community music ensembles or performing professionally, thus adding a context from which musical instruction borrows meaning.

In NSW, there are 17 regional conservatoriums offering instrumental and other instruction at a pre-tertiary level sometimes supplemented with TAFE level courses. They are autonomous nonprofit organisations lightly subsidised by the state government through the Education Department. Lessons are charged for at market rates. Buildings often are provided with assistance from local and possibly state government, sometimes with private contributions also.58

One of the great benefits from these organisations is that because they can offer a reliable income for professional teachers/musicians, they make it possible for professionals to live away from the cities to enrich the skills and musical life of the region. It would be possible for these organisations to take up the role of service provider to the school system on contract, whether for classroom music in primary schools or expert instrumental instruction.

The regional conservatoriums are fee-for-service institutions and so serve those who can afford to pay. Presumably, many interested people cannot.

The Dandenong Ranges Music Council takes wide responsibility for music education and performance in the region. It has contracted with the Education Department to provide music instruction in schools and offers fee-for-service music lessons and ensembles in its own premises. Other community music organisations could play (may already be playing?) a similar role, perhaps most effectively in outer metropolitan areas like the Dandenongs in Victoria, and large provincial cities, where the potential clientele is substantial and there is a unifying local culture, or compatible multiple cultures.

Other Professional Education: As (or if) a national school curriculum is introduced, professional development courses will be required to enable teachers to teach it. If the problem of unskilled primary school teachers is to be addressed, solutions must reach not only the future teachers now taking undergraduate degrees but also the vast number of existing generalist teachers. Decisions will need to be made about who is to provide and with what resources. The problem is more acute for the arts subjects than for subjects such as literacy where preparation for teaching the national curriculum requires mainly the redirection of existing skills; in the arts, teachers may have no skills to redirect.

Classical young artist programs: Many of the professional orchestras and opera companies have postgraduate performance programs for musicians seeking to enter the profession. These are invaluable and to be encouraged. Currently many programs are either tokenistic or deal too superficially with the skills needed to succeed in the global arts market – mostly because the programs are unfunded.

Business skills for young artists: There seems to be great interest among young contemporary music practitioners in gaining marketing and business skills that can carry them to professional success. Workshops and short courses are offered by a very few universities, some TAFE colleges and some state music industry associations. For those of serious intent, short courses are not enough. Development of Australian music exports into the future requires transference of business and production skills to the next generation of artists who will have to be competitive both as musicians and in their use of with e-media, finance, marketing, accounting and logistics.

Building Commonwealth support and training programs into popular fringe festivals and other youth events that attract many early-stage career musicians could be a way of disseminating a skill base to a fragmented contemporary popular music sector. There is also a need in the commercial music industry for MBA and other business courses to deal specifically with its needs. Finally, some universities offer degree programs in arts administration which are currently mainly directed employment in the non-profit sector, but could be supplemented by a more commercial perspective.


Culture and Physical Infrastructure

One needs only to think about the role of iconic buildings to begin understanding the connection between culture and infrastructure depicted in Chart 2 (click to view). To the extent that they could be funded, these lavish concert halls reflected a cultural need that could be satisfied. From the concert halls and theatres built from the 17th century onwards in continental Europe and Great Britain, followed by the Americas mainly from about 1890 and Asia since the 1960s, to ultramodern buildings like renowned architect Frank Gehry’s 21st century Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the influence of culture on infrastructure is visible.

This naturally applies also to our current Australian venues of which the Centennial Hall in the sandstone Sydney Town Hall is the oldest (1889), followed by Adelaide’s Elder Conservatory in 1900, and then by a huge interval before the Adelaide Festival Hall, the Perth Concert Hall and the Sydney Opera House were all opened in 1973. Since then, at least nine more major concert halls have opened in Australia, partly or wholly replacing older venues.

But there are many humbler connections between culture and physical infrastructure, ranging from pubs and clubs providing opportunities for mainly older musicians (Jazz in Australia) as well as mainly young performers (The Casual Music Workforce) to perform music of their preferred genres. There is an amazing variety of rural and provincial venues for community music events. The 2015 program of the Dandenong Ranges Music Council in Victoria, to pick just one of many community music organisations, lists local churches, school halls, returned services clubs, community halls and local theatres as venues. Local music festivals are performed in an even greater variety of venues including a cattle shed deemed by the highly qualified classical musicians as well as the audience who kept returning for more, to have outstanding acoustic qualities (honestly!). This particular festival also benefited from the proximity of spectacular limestone caves like Jenolan and Abercrombie in NSW.59

These examples provide only part of a bird’s eye view of the interaction between culture and physical infrastructure. At all levels, musical life is enriched. And this is just the physical manifestations of the interaction.

Defining Infrastructure for Scenario Purposes

Buildings are clearly infrastructure, necessary for the presentation of music and other performing arts. This visible infrastructure delineates the current physical capability to satisfy the manifold demands of audiences across a wide cultural range, but much infrastructure is not physical. It is referred to as “intangible”, or even “soft” to contrast it with “hard” stuctures. Looking into the future, multiple policy choices are required to determine how to meet the demands of a growing population whose preferences will change in partly unpredictable ways. The role of the scenarios is to set the boundaries for what are plausible assumptions for how these future societies might be served — the range from worst to best cases.

It is more debatable how far we can and should practically go in the realm of intangible infrastructure. Introducing the concept, we noted that it ranges all the way from the nation itself to activities and institutions that are music-specific. As far as the state of our nation, its government and its societal structure are concerned, it is unrealistic to expect the music scenarios to have any significant influence. To use the term common in statistical analysis, the music sector is the dependent variable, and the basic structure must prevail for appropriate music-related policies to be identified. The scenarios must take a narrower view specific to what the threats and opportunities are for music, and how specific policies can influence this.

This still leaves a very large canvas, some of which, like education and the cultural connections, have already been discussed. Some infrastructure definitions, however, are even wider than the rough sketch we presented in the section on the common basis for the scenarios, because they include the artists and arts companies themselves. But they are “dependent variables” to the extent that they depend on the prevailing cultural patterns and the policies associated with culture; on the available educational opportunities and the prevailing technology; and on the existing and prospective institutions and societal characteristics which make up the infrastructure as defined for these scenarios.

As we turn to the MCA submission’s comments on infrastructure, it is pleasing that the independent conclusion that has just been reached from a scenario-planning viewpoint agrees with the conclusion reached in the submission from a policy-making standpoint. This is how the submission expresses it: “The underlying foundation of the arts sector is, in one sense, the artists and their works. Without them, nothing else is possible. But having acknowledged that, it does not seem to help the discussion. Day to day, they need an underlying supportive structure. They are not that structure.”

Because they are dependent variables, including them in the basic infrastructure would be to put the cart in front of the horse.


These are updated main points on infrastructure from the submission:

Buildings are infrastructure virtually by definition. Providing them is mostly the responsibility of state and local governments. The national responsibility is exercised mostly through a few national facilities located in Canberra, but a national cultural policy might also take an overview of the adequacy of provision around the country generally. The government did so when it made it a condition for school halls funded by the current building program to be available for out-of-hours use by the community.

Many complaints about inadequacies generally are at the level of small companies, artist-organised spaces, and spaces for community arts activity. On a rational distribution of responsibilities, this would seem at first sight more the concern local government, if necessary with state support. Nevertheless, this is the place for diversity, makeshift solutions and innovation, widespread participation, all of which are important concerns for a national cultural policy. But proponents of smaller ventures often find it hard to get heard when complaints about major spaces are raised, such as scarcity of large concert halls in major cities — not to mention the battle to repair the alterations to the original design to the Sydney Opera House caused after architect Jørn Utzon was forced out in 1966, halfway through the 14 years it took to complete the building. Such issues call for at least state government support. Chart 2 (click to view) suggests that “Culture” in the context of this paper has a strong influence on infrastructure in our scenario model, including the creativity implied in the previous sentence. Perhaps there are possible strategies for the Commonwealth to be a partner in provision of such spaces, which would provide one way that existing infrastructure can have an impact on existing cultural activities.

One possibility is for the Commonwealth to encourage schools with new school halls to invite artists or arts companies to take up residencies, perhaps in return for some regular interaction with the students. This could be highly valuable for all concerned. The artists could use funds saved on rent to assist with, for instance, touring. There is plenty of room for invention.

Whole of government: Most government ministries and departments can provide elements of cultural infrastructure.60 The discussion paper implicitly recognises that if a cultural policy is based upon a broad definition of culture, it can be implemented only if the policy is based upon a broad definition of culture that depends upon involvement of all corresponding parts of government.

National cultural sector associations: For the most part, national associations catering for specific art forms, heritage, arts education and other segments of the cultural sector do not produce or present art but in various ways support those that do. To some extent they are the civil society counterparts of the supporting government agencies. Because of this special function, they often miss out with funding or policy consideration by government agencies. They are important to government agencies because they take it as part of their role to provide information about their sectors and articulate their concerns, and so can assist government decision-making. They have a role in a national cultural policy.

There can be considerable differences between the interests and views of national, state and local cultural organisations in Australia. In some cases, a national association has been formed by agreement between existing state associations. Often, in such structures, the national association is weak and periodically under threat of withdrawal of funds or membership of state associations. Some do not survive. In other cases, an existing national association sets up state branches. Here, the national may have greater stability but there still can be the threat of disruption by its state members.

So far as a national cultural policy is concerned, the federal government is more likely to get a national viewpoint from national industry associations like the Australian Recording Industry Association (APRA) or service organisations like APRA AMCOS, which collects and distributes royalties, but state governments have parallel requirements for a local view, say, from the music organisations that exist in each state. The more competent these organisations are, the more useful they can be to government. It is in its interests to strengthen them and a good way to do that is to look for ways of paying for their expert services in, for instance, research, publishing or project management.

Broadcast spectrum: The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting presented a unique opportunity for dramatically enhanced program choices for Australian audiences, which seems to have been largely squandered during the protracted recovery phase following the Global Financial Crisis. The need remains for regulatory requirements to sustain appropriate levels of Australian programs that reflect Australia’s cultural diversity and identity — stories about Australia told by Australians to Australians. This can have flow-on effects of bolstering the viability of the Australian production industry and introducing greater competition in the broadcast sector.

As multi-channels are allowed, they must be required to broadcast Australian programs (and commercials) in accordance with the provisions of an Australian content standard at the maximum level allowable within the restrictions imposed by the Australia United States Free Trade Agreement.

Broadband infrastructure: This is increasingly important for the success of the cultural sector domestically and internationally. As it expands, the government’s broadband rollout will be beneficial in a multitude of ways, including new opportunities for online teaching, distance education, performances involving multiple locations, artist self-promotion and others. It also introduces an important new influence: an increased ability for infrastructure to influence Australian culture which actually motivated us to fatten the arrow from infrastructure to culture on Chart 2 (the arrows are intended not just to show the interconnections but provide a subjective impression indicating their strength). The impact of Australian content regulations mentioned below is another example of infrastructure influencing our existing culture.

Nevertheless, it could introduce a number of serious problems that should be addressed in advance so far as is possible. By facilitating rapid downloading of audio and audiovisual materials the increased broadband capacity will inadvertently encourage more piracy. Government collaboration may be necessary in finding solutions that get royalty income to copyright holders.

Further, the introduction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) has the potential to adversely affect the viability of the commercial free-to-air television networks, dilute Australian content, marginalise the presence of Australian content in the overall media landscape and facilitate the introduction of unregulated Internet Protocol television IPTV broadcasting.

Former Communications, Information Technology and Arts Minister Richard Alston in 2000 determined that the regulatory framework or the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 does not apply to radio or television programs using the Internet unless they are delivered in the broadcasting services bands. This determination61 should be rescinded as it means that content and classification regulations cannot be imposed on such services distributed through the NBN.

Free-to-air commercial broadcasters are required to air certain levels of Australian content to ensure that they broadcast Australian programming which reflects the multicultural nature of Australia’s population, promote Australian culture and identity and facilitate the development of the local production industry. They thus fulfil social and cultural obligations imposed by successive governments in acknowledgement of the important cultural role they play and in acknowledgement of the commercial benefits that accrue with access to scarce and valuable spectrum.

Obligations should be imposed in respect of the NBN given that Australian taxpayers are the major investors in its construction, delivering a significant benefit to the commercial operators of the future. Quotas would not be effective because of the unlimited access on the Internet, but the “must carry” local content regulations which apply to cable and other pay television should work.

It is understood that the ABC has called for the NBN company to be legislatively required to operate in the interests of the Australian public. Its social and cultural obligations should be enshrined in a charter, as is the case with the ABC and SBS.

Finally, the submission supports calls for the imposition of must-carry rules for the NBN to carry publicly funded broadcasters including the ABC, SBS, National Indigenous TV (NITV) and other publicly supported television, radio and internet services including community television and radio services.


The Nature of Innovation and Technology

We originally called this set of driving forces Technology, though we realised that there is more to it than the digital revolution and the Internet, and more than the technologies that have propelled musical performance towards perfection through the architecture and engineering of concert halls, development of musical instruments, the technology surrounding great orchestras and great bands, and a multitude of other tangible ways. Technology in this sense is largely an engineering species, important for any progress but insufficient to drive a major cultural activity like music on its own. Any musician or other artist would twig to the fact that innovation and creativity are major driving forces behind technology — engineers and economists, politicians and industry leaders take a little longer. In the final analysis, however, Innovation, Creativity and Technology form a powerful “troika” of intimately related influences on the complex adaptive supersystem named the music sector. But technology in the “engineering” sense is more egg than chicken, to use another metaphor.

The three are integral to the MCA submission which responded to the then Australian Labor government planning for a renewed Australian cultural plan. Technology, innovation and creativity so penetrated the submission that they appear in many sections but, strikingly, “fostering artistic innovation” and “linking innovation and the cultural heritage” entered the narrative long before the technology issues were taken up (concentrating on digital opportunities and threats). The other sets of driving forces, Education and Infrastructure, even Culture, were treated neatly in separate sections but reference to Innovation in the submission was widespread.

Chart 2 (click to view) suggests that there are interactive influences between all four basic driving forces, but the innovation troika probably has a stronger influence on Infrastructure, and even on Culture, than these entities have directly on Innovation.

The links between Innovation and Education appear to be strong in both directions, but the concepts are hardly parallel: the impact of education seems to be towards “nuts-and-bolts” technology, whereas the influence on education veers towards innovation and creativity, vital forces for future success. As we have repeatedly pointed out, Chart 2 is subjective — but its “impressionist” character brings renewed insights.

Brian Arthur is another exponent of complexity and complex adaptive systems, which the MCA submission recommended as a framework for thinking about how to engineer cultural policy change in Australia. He has a continuing connection with the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico which is probably the world’s leading centre advocating such systems.62 Brian Arthur’s academic record is truly multidisciplinary, ranging from operations research and human biology to economics, engineering and technology. His book, The Nature of Technology (2009), defines technological change as an organic process, like biology — his two most quoted sources are Charles Darwin who discovered evolution, and Joseph Schumpeter whose economic model included technology as an integral dynamic driving force63. So there are two main planks:

  • Technological change is an organic process, which means, as it does in Darwin’s theory of evolution, that nothing is created without something being already in place to make it happen — no invention has ever happened out of thin air.
  • Technology is an integral part of the economic model — a major driver of change.64

The Nature of Technology does concentrate on how change is painstakingly built on the current mainly physical structure, but Arthur makes it clear that innovation and invention are essential forces directing the change. Innovation and creativity are part of his troika too.


Artistic innovation: The theory of complex adaptive systems applied to cultural evolution is helpful in the discussion of innovation. Innovation requires risk-taking and frequently does not succeed. It is a step into the unknown.

The mass audience has a limited interest in innovation. Truly innovative art attracts mainly a small, knowledgeable and committed audience that has the motivation and courage to deal with unfamiliarity, uncertainty and failure. History shows that today’s innovations can invoke cat-calls but carry in them the routine musical expectations of the future. Beethoven, Stravinsky and rock music are major examples.65

This audience will be unlikely to contribute sufficient funds to meet expenses. A cultural policy that encourages real innovation cannot at the same time rationally demand financial viability or punish financial loss.

If we wish to encourage innovation, we should consider the behaviour of innovators and what sort of situation they respond to. Sometimes there is urgency in the opportunity. They need to be caught on the boil. Funding procedures generally are not friendly to the latter.

Because of the level of specialisation across the entire economy, true innovations are likely to be known and understood by only a small number of people – in the arts, the artists and a small coterie audience. Innovations become culturally valuable as they are more widely adopted.

Official cultural documents justify government support to the arts on the basis that they strengthen national identity — as the arts evolve through innovation, an identity will emerge.

Long-standing ambitions for a distinctive national identity were given new currency after World War 2 by the uncertainties created by rapid change and uncertainty about any cultural consensus between “old” Australians and a flood of new immigrants. We wanted our art to be “distinctively Australian” while internationally competitive with contemporary art in the world’s leading artistic centres. This meant that it had to be unlike almost all art that preceded it; therefore innovation would be highly valued and receive priority for support. This is still the agenda.

The dilemma is that people who worry about national identity do not find a concept that our identity is in our diversity at all comfortable. Moreover, identity is never fixed; like everything else, it evolves.

Finally, there is a new emphasis on education to encourage creativity. The arts claim to be a natural home of creativity and therefore to have an important place in such education.

Innovation and the cultural heritage: Meaningful innovation builds something new to depart from the old, builds from the known into the previously unknown. In art, music for instance, innovation is a departure from expectation and this engages interest, causes pleasurable surprise.

Innovation depends upon a living heritage, which gives us the cultural language that allows communication. Artist and audience must share a language for the artist to communicate. Innovation requires heritage. For meaningful innovation, the heritage must be sustained as a living, breathing art of our time.

In classical music, there is a new sort of untutored impatience in some circles with the heritage. This is especially apparent in symphonic music and opera, which have the misfortune not only to be centred on heritage but also to require heavy government funding for their survival.

The living heritage of classical music would not survive in this country without the orchestras and opera companies. They are the major attractors of a big audiences and major employers of the musicians. Culturally valuable though it is, small-scale classical activity is not viable as the core, or only, classical music activity. It continues, standing on the platform provided by that large-scale activity.

The large performing organisations have an audience that mainly is attracted to the heritage. As drivers of innovation, they are inhibited by their economics. Financial viability requires large audiences but the audiences for innovation are small. They need to carry the art form forward but by and large, they are not in a position to be the main innovators. This role lies with small, flexible organisations, which the major organisations should cooperate with and support.

This is our music. Like most traditions, it has come here from elsewhere but it is now ours as much as anyone’s. We are happy enough to claim jazz, rock music or other popular genres as our own, while recognising their foreign origins. Classical music, whether orchestral or operatic, is an internationally negotiable art form and we are very good at it. Let us own it and go from there.66

But let us also recognise that contemporary music is indeed living up to its popular label, as in attracting large audiences, and we are getting better there too. You could make a similar parallel between opera, the classical art form, and mainstream music theatre which has also grown in popularity.

Technologies: There is no art form that so early and so completely embraced digital technology, using it at every step of the way from musical creation to delivery to the listener. Indeed, technology has dramatically disrupted the music industry in ways that are well known. Perhaps less well known is, for instance, the degree to which computer generated film or television soundtracks have displaced the work of live performers.

The use of new technologies for musical creation and learning are important in the curriculum for students – and for their teachers, who may have even more to learn. Music students are able to learn much about music and musical techniques via computer instruction and their use of computers to create and disseminate music. In some ways, the use of computers for musical creation and performance bypasses students’ limitation with physical instruments. In the process, students achieve technological literacy that can be applied broadly outside of music.

As discussed under Education and hinted at in the previous paragraph, the ongoing introduction of new digital equipment is presenting challenges to teachers of all subjects, including music. The main requirement is to support teachers with equipment, maintenance, and helping them to upgrade their skills.

The continuing, sequential, developmental study of music in the primary school years should, according to research, elevate achievements in creativity and in academic studies, increase social skills, achieve technological competency, reduce truancy and other ancillary benefits.

Cultural diversity: Innovation and heritage go hand in hand. A multicultural arts policy should support both. Australia could be a major presenter both of traditions and innovations. The policy must also uphold the right for immigrant people to participate in both the culture they grew up with and the culture of their new country.

There is an abundance of cultural expressions in an immigrant population that is largely left to fend for itself. Some simply abandon their art. Others continue, perhaps for an audience within their own communities. The potential for bringing these cultures to the larger community is inadequately explored. They present a diversity which could contribute to a powerhouse of cultural innovation. One of our greatest lost opportunities.

If the government is to extend its emphasis on innovation in the arts, one of the greatest stimuli is the juxtaposition of arts genres. Examples are the hybrids of various forms of ethnic music with each other or with more mainstream genres. There is a worldwide market for such music, called “world music”. There has been a slow evolution of activity in Australia, but it should be a leader in this field.

There does not appear to be any vigorous government intervention to take advantage of Australia’s cultural richness. The arrival, or not, of such intervention is the most obvious way in which the development of musical diversity and related innovation could be accelerated. Such government intervention should support financially risky innovation and also seek to guide some of this activity towards financial self-sufficiency.

Funding innovative projects: Innovation carries financial risk which should be recognised by government funding bodies. Infrastructure funding for arts and culture needs permanency and sustainability by comparison with, say, funding for innovation, which can be short-term and one-off. All the more reason why funded infrastructure should be assessed for performance and quality assurance, but it needs a different funding model.

Music as a creative industry: Generally when music is discussed as a creative industry the focus is upon its economic contribution, but the creative economy should not be one-dimensionally about economic issues.

Music is a major contributor to the creative industries by whatever definition is used. In this cultural policy, focused especially on the arts as instrumental in achieving non-arts objectives, the emphasis is on their contribution to the economy, employment, creation and utilisation of new technologies. But not all music is well suited to economic exploitation. Much innovative music draws only a small audience and so does not immediately hold promise of financial profit.

Statistics: The contribution of the music sector to the Australian economy has not been evaluated for 30 years, but will be by mid-2015 to conclude this project. Music sector statistics are fragmentary with major omissions — to get even part of the way towards measuring it will be an important innovation. Neither the government nor the music sector has a proper basis for policy or business planning without adequate data. The MCA in 2005 developed a statistical framework for the music sector, addressed to the Cultural Ministers’ Council, but there was no government action to populate it, and the database has been further starved following the 2014-15 Budget.

An active popular musician himself, Professor Philip Graham of the Queensland University of Technology has made a special study of the digitising music industry. The major technologies used in Australian music are influenced by the quality of Australia’s tertiary education institutions, and from overseas. Tertiary education (nowadays influencing not just musicianship but entrepreneurship as well) is needed to run a successful business. These institutions focus (to varying degrees) on both performance and business skills.67

Surveys by APRA and Arts Victoria estimate the mean annual income for musicians to be somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000. All are below the 2010 national poverty line of $18,616 per year for a single adult.68 Performance labour is, generally speaking, the bread and butter, professional training ground, and cultural coal mine of musical labour, he says. It is difficult to calculate its size because the only aspects of the market that can be estimated with any accuracy are licensed music venues and ticketed events. Large areas of activity such as corporate events, weddings, parties, and licensed venues are so decentralised, random or spontaneous it is unlikely that a full and accurate account can ever be calculated. Whether paid or unpaid, the labour of performance goes well beyond actual time spent on stage: rehearsals, equipment costs, and travelling to the venues. Add to that promotion, accounting, and general organisational matters associated with any small business, and the labour cost of performance is many times that of actual stage time.

On the other hand, new technologies have facilitated new opportunities for the kinds of work that musicians can do themselves, regardless of the areas in which they are active. Recording, promoting, publishing, narrowcasting, “plugging”, booking, and all sorts of activities that were once the sole province of non-musician experts are now technically within reach of most musicians. But with that facility has come a whole raft of expectations that they will do at least some major part of that work on behalf of venues, record labels, and any other group of professionals whose job it is to exploit music.

Philip Graham’s view of the music business69 “is one based in political economy, which … is older and very different to what is currently called economics. Economics has, since at least 1916, consciously limited its focus to the study of prices, whereas political economy has maintained a much broader view of humanity in the analysis and explanation of values.” In political economy, price is just one concept of value that is heavily dependent on the production of other values, such as prestige, aesthetics, morality and utility. Studies continue to show that there are strong links between participation in music-making activities and positive health and happiness outcomes. The music business matters because it moves ahead of and anticipates political economy more generally. It tells us what is coming for the greater bulk of society. It is political economy’s “canary in the coalmine”. The lesson says that we cannot afford to let the future of work become what it is for musicians at present.

This observation rings a loud bell, maybe especially for the economist whose special interest in the arts (and natural ecology) has had a profound influence on his views over 30 years. In fact, the whole idea of this scenario-planning project is based upon the need to unearth a happier future where musicians and other artists are better acknowledged for their contributions to the protection of our cultural capital — just like the global ecology and the risks it is facing has influenced his views on global environmental issues.

This concludes the mining for information which will now be used to attempt a synthesis in the final section, to provide the 2015 basis for the scenarios.

Music Sector 2015

The music sector is global, and our scenario-building links back into the global and general Australian assessment in paper #7, Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage. Another thing to determine for 2015 is the impact on the music sector of the Australian economy in its global setting. There are other international influences as well, some of which may be captured through their effect on the four sets of driving forces we identified for the music sector — Culture, Education, Infrastructure and Innovation. The purpose of this final section is to see how far we can progress with the combined analysis of external and specific influences towards a definition of the current (2015) situation which is needed as a basis for future music sector scenarios. The answer is that we end up with a valuable subjective picture of the influences of the driving forces and their interrelations which is important for the forthcoming numerical assessment, but we need a statistical database in the final analysis (due in the third quarter of 2015).

External Economic and Political Influences

The 5% annual economic global growth rate between 2005 and 2008 was shattered by the Global Financial Crisis which saw a 3% rate in 2008 followed by decline in 2009.70 Chart 5 does show that five percent four years in a row was extraordinary — the rate averaged 4.1% between 1995 and 2007 and growth fell below 3% in 1998 and 2001. Following the crash, the bounce back in 2010 was not sustained — global economic growth slowed in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before levelling out at 3.3% in 2014. The International Monetary Fund expects it to accelerate modestly in 2015 and 2016. The average annual global output rate between 2008 and 2014 was 3.4% and 2013 and 2014 were both slightly below that rate.

Moreover, the IMF forecasts dated January 2015 have been reduced as little as three months after October 2014 when they were reset previously, except for the United States, the only major area to be given an upward revision. Table 2 shows that the main reductions are in the “emerging markets and developing economies”, notably China. The “advanced economies” are a mixed picture with the United States appearing to be recovering at last while Europe and Japan are struggling. The latest forecast for China has been cut though not nearly as much as Russia. India and Southeast Asia appear, at least for now, to be in the ascendancy.

A new phenomenon is causing additional anxiety. Although the decline in energy prices has been generally welcomed, problems arise when many prices dip at once. Consumer prices in the Eurozone, the area hardest hit by recession, fell by 0.6% in the year to January 2015, and America, Britain and China are experiencing ultra-low inflation of less than 1%.71 This has adverse consequences of which the worst is that it paralyses monetary policy. Central banks can choose in the name of economic stimulus to neutralise the impact of 4% inflation by reducing their interest rates to a similar extent, but if inflation is already zero or negative, interest rates have to go negative too (as is actually happening in some countries). At negative interest rates, banks must pay for the “privilege” of depositing their cash in the central bank, and customers for putting theirs into their local bank — they may choose to use their mattresses instead.

The quantitative easing by the European Central Bank mentioned in Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage (footnote 5) is pumping €60 billion per month into the EU economy from early 2015 — a move considered long overdue by observers.72 The European economy is in urgent need of revival according to these sources.

The unbalanced global economy is a general concern. The Economist welcomes the revival in America where consumer sentiment in January, boosted by cheap gasoline, jumped to its highest level for more than a decade, but it worries that the world is once again relying too much on American consumers to power growth. “The longer-term fear is that growing imbalances will repeat the financial cycle of the 2000s, in which exporters to America once again finance reckless consumer borrowing.” (Leader on ‘American shopper’, The Economist 14 February 2015).

Whereas the IMF increased its forecasts for the United States in January, it cut its already dismal growth forecasts for the Eurozone further back. Coupled with the radical reassessment for Russia, this has possible geopolitical consequences. The same issue of The Economist contains another leader (‘Putin’s War on the West’), warning that Russia’s President “presides over a free-falling currency and rapidly shrinking economy” though this doesn’t seem to have hurt his domestic position.73 In the wake of his efforts to “domesticate” Ukraine, the European Union and NATO according to The Economist have become Mr Putin’s targets, focusing on NATO’s commitment to mutual self-defence. “Discredit that — by, for example, staging a pro-Russian uprising in Estonia or Latvia, which other NATO members decline to help quell — and the alliance crumbles.”

Even without this threat, the internal problems that the EU is already facing are not helping to boost morale in Europe. To take but one example, there is renewed talk of a possible “Grexit” following the election of a populist government in Greece.74 The weakest parts of the EU have up to now been its Mediterranean members generally, from Cyprus to the Iberian peninsula. The main influence on the European economy, Germany, has been accused of conducting an unduly conservative economic policy, with investment expenditure declining strongly where it could be boosting growth and optimism — but at least the European Central Bank has now acted.

On the generally positive side, an opportunity has presented itself with the fall in energy costs, with oil prices halving in six months and natural gas prices being at their lowest level for a decade. Furthermore, advances in clean energy and conservation are another cause for oil prices to decline — as well as the boom in natural gas extraction which is more controversial. The Economist (‘Seize the day’, 17 January 2015) sees growing signs that low prices are here to stay (BP, weakened since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, is rumoured to be a takeover or merger target of other oil majors, seen as a sign of industry turmoil and concern), and the IMF lowered its 2015 oil price forecast by 38% in January according to Table 2, from which it expects prices to recover only partially in 2016. The Economist calls the current situation a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for bold economic policy-making — removing $550 billion in worldwide subsidies for producing or consuming fossil fuel for starters.

IMF’s January update did not show forecasts for Australia, but “Australia appears to fit in many of the boxes that contain bad news”.75 The most recent IMF figures for Australia, from October 2014, showed 2013 at 2.3% and 2014 at an estimated 2.8% growth in Australia. The forecasts for 2015 (2.9%) and 2016 (3.0%) are almost certain to have been revised down, at a guess to around 2.5% in both years.

Impact on Australia

Then Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2009 identified the crisis as far more than just financial. Referring to American business magnate and philanthropist George Soros, “the salient feature of the current financial crisis is that it was not caused by some external shock … the crisis was generated by the system itself.” He blamed 30 years dominated by the free-market ideology that government activity should be constrained and ultimately replaced by market forces. Whatever were the merits of that ideology, there is a widely held opinion that it exacerbated the crisis, most visibly by failing to control the financial system.

The Rudd government’s response to the crisis was to introduce two economic stimulus packages. The first (October 2008) provided $10.4 billion of assistance to seniors, carers and families; the second package in February 2009 ($47 billion) was allocated to school extensions, new homes, improved home insulation and other measures. Some of these suffered from the government’s sense of urgency to maintain economic activity, causing some specific decisions taken in individual schools to be open to criticism, and resulting in the electrocution of four young men working on home insulation jobs — work that was often begun in haste. The government was also criticised for running up a debt after the previous Coalition government had built up a surplus during its decade in charge — a charge which the current Coalition government keeps levelling upon Labor.

The impact of the crisis on Australia is usefully viewed in a “dual economy” perspective, focusing on the “resource states” of Queensland and Western Australia versus the “manufacturing states” of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.76 In the five years leading up to the crisis, the Australian economy grew by an average of 3.6%, but the state products of Queensland and WA increased by 4.9% and 5.7%, respectively, compared with 3%+ in the two southern states and NSW trailing with 2.2%. Between 2008-09 and 2013-14, the average annual increase in each of the latter states was 2% or less (Table 3). As a result of the growing imbalance between the resource states and the rest of Australia, analysts began to talk about a “two-tiered” economy where exchange rates were kept high by the mineral exports, causing other exports and domestic production to become less competitive. The crisis had an unequal impact on the two groups of states, which continued into the first half of the 2010s. There was a danger that the economic and social imbalances that had emerged before the crisis would persist.

Remarkably, WA kept its rapid pace until 2014, continuing its pre-crisis 5% annual growth in the six years that followed. It may have come to a halt, however. Total metalliferous ore exports (dominated by iron ore from WA) peaked at $96.2 billion in fiscal 2013-14 (year to June). It actually reached its peak of $96.7 billion in the 12 months ended April 2014, and at the latest count (September 2014 to January 2015) ran 20% below the same months in 2013-14. Coal exports, on the other hand, peaked at $55 billion in 2008-09 and averaged $41.6 billion in the five following years — almost 25% below the peak. Japan remains the major importer of Australian coal and three of the four top coal export ports are in Queensland (the exception is Newcastle, the export port for Hunter Valley coal in NSW). The rate of growth of Queensland’s state product fell from 5.7% pre-crisis to 2.3% post-crisis, which would be partly attributable to falling export income.

The national impact of the mineral boom started to fade with the Australian terms of trade (ratio of export to import prices) declining from 2011, which together with the general sluggish expansion in the rest of the world has lengthened the recovery phase. The Australian to US dollar exchange rate has come down from a peak of $A1.10 in July 2011 to 77 cents in mid-March 2015 (the time of writing this). It declined in two stages from $1.04 in March 2013 to 89.3 cents in August of that year, and then quite dramatically from 93 cents in early September 2014 to 77 cents little more than six months later. The dual economy has a much reduced impact, which should be making non-mining goods and services more competitive on the world market. Unfortunately, the world economy has itself slowed down (Table 2), limiting the opportunities for Australian exporters. This includes the Chinese market, and many other markets which remain in the doldrums, such as Japan and Europe.77 The main positive factor is the recent apparent recovery of the American economy, coupled with lower energy prices.

In summary, the situation is far from clarified. The continued impact of the Global Financial Crisis is still evident, seven or eight years after it began. The low-debt position came in handy for the government as a first response to the crisis through the two economic stimulus packages, and Australia was then spared the worst effects by the mineral boom. However, it caused the same high exchange rates which affected the competitive position of Australia’s manufacturing industries, and other goods and services. Since 2011, mineral exports have suffered from lower prices, and demand has been fading for markets generally as economic prosperity has lacked behind.

We have entered 2015, the base year for the scenarios, as China is slowing down and both mineral and other Australian exports have failed to recover. Simultaneously, the geopolitical situation is getting more complex, which also affects Australia. The economic climate is chilly as we set the course of the scenarios, though it remains plausible to assume that international and local Australian political and legal structures will remain intact or change only slowly.

In the 10 years between the 2001 and 2011 population census, the Australian population increased by 15.9% but the number of people born in countries other than Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand grew by 45.6% to reach a total of 19.2% of the total population compared with 15.2% in 2001 (Table 4). The population born in 18 East, Southeast and South Asian countries increased from 5.3% to 8.6% — in absolute numbers by 89% from 1m to 1.9m. The share of people born in other countries such as continential Europe, America, Africa and western Asia rose much less, from 10% to 10.6%.

East Asia is dominated by China which contributed an increase in the Australian resident population from 153,400 in 2001 to 387,400 in 2011 (+153%). The total increase from East Asia was from 316,400 to 634,200 (101%). The second-largest East Asian contributor was South Korea with a 120% rise from 39,000 in 2001 to 85,900 in 2001. There were smaller relative increases in the number of people born in Japan (to 41,400 in 2011), Hong Kong (86,000) and Taiwan (33,500).

The number of people born in Southeast Asia increased at a lower rate from 512,800 in 2001 to 760,500 in 2011 (+48.3%), which was still the highest absolute number among the three regions defined here. The main contributors were Vietnam which led the immigration from Asia in the 1970s and still managed a 27% rise from 2001 to 207,600 to 2011, and the Philippines (+69% to 193,000). The other countries in this region also registered increases: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (to 134,100, 73,100, 55,800, 53,000, 32,500 and 11,300, respectively).

The highest growth rate in the number of immigrant people resident in Australia between 2001 and 2011 was due to South Asia (+184% from 183,100 to 520,700). It was naturally dominated by India with a 244% increase from 98,100 in 2001 to 337,100 in 2011. Other South Asian countries also showed significant increases from a minimum of 65% in the number of people born in Sri Lanka (to 99,700), to smaller but strongly rising contributions from Bangladesh (to 31,600), Nepal (27,800) and Myanmar (24,400).

These trends rival what is happening in America with the rise in the Hispanic population, of whom 64% was of Mexican origin in 2013.78 However, the situation is different because the current proportion of Hispanics is much higher than the relative number of Asians in Australia. Hispanics in 2015 numbered 17.7% of the total US population, forecast to reach 20.3% by 2025 and 22.8% by 2035. In 2000, the proportion was 12.6% and in 2004 14.1%. Back in 1953 “America’s Hispanic population numbered perhaps 3m” (p 3) — 2% of a 150m total population.

The absolute numbers show that over half the US population growth since the turn of the century has been Hispanic.79 This far exceeds the 29.5% share of the 18 Asian countries in the total Australian population growth between 2001 and 2011. Nonetheless, the growth in the Asian component identified in Chart 4 if anything outpaces the current and forecast growth in the Hispanic share of the US population, and could well be expected to reach 12.5% or 15% by 2035 (four to five million persons of a total population of 32m), depending on the scenario. The absolute number between 2001 and 2015 would have more than doubled, from 1m to an estimated 2.3m, which suggests that four million or more in 2035 may be realistic, or even conservative (subject to further analysis as we develop the statistical base).

Music Drivers 2015

As we stated in the introductory paragraph of this section, it is possible from the analysis in this paper to form a set of subjective assessments of the impact on the music sector associated with the four sets of driving forces. The assessment has to be subjective in the absence of a statistical framework for the music sector, still to come.

The assessments are shown in Charts 6 to 9, for each set of driving forces. The charts attempt to encapsulate the details of Sections 2 to 5 above. They are, to repeat, clearly subjective, lacking a numerical base, and may be supplemented or altered. Many of the judgments are made here in association with one for the four sets but as we attempted to demonstrate with Chart 2 (click to view]) and repeated throughout the paper, the four forces are interrelated and may reinforce each other.

The four charts follow a simple pattern. Each set of driving forces give rise to a set of issues or aspects which are given a score from two to minus two. These scores are visualized by the traffic light colours from green via amber to red (allowing two shades of green for positive impact and an added midpoint where the net impact is uncertain and therefore assumed to be neutral).

The current state of “Culture” and its derivatives in Chart 6 finds the main influences on the music sector to be the generally strong cultural tradition in Australia coupled with a strengthening multicultural component — to which Australia is generally tolerant and receptive which contrasts with current general attitudes in Europe. Note, however, that multicultural policies are judged to have weakened despite the larger ethnic presence (see Chart 9 below) — a possible alert that all is not well though nowhere as bad as in many other countries, including Europe. In addition, popular music performance in Australia is strong, vigorous and growing under its own steam, but art music is also strong in terms of international quality and acceptance. Indigenous music, following decades of relative obscurity, is also become more visible, as has indeed happened to Indigenous arts in general over the past 30 or 40 years.

The main negative cultural factors are associated with lack of or patchy support of cultural policy, international threats to the diversity of popular music augmented by the digital developments since the mid-1990s, and the low Australian share of art music performance in Australia to which there have been no signs of improvement.

Education as a driving force has a greater preponderance of “red lights” relative to “green lights”, though this impression may be exaggerated to the extent that the alerts are symptoms of the same malaise, such of the inferior status of school music and hours of music taught, and inadequate funding of tertiary music establishments. However, the fact that Australia is slipping back on PISA scores (maths, science and reading) may eventually become traceable to discoveries such as the ability of music to enhance general learning potential, and to the impact of unequal opportunities given students in state and private schools, and between geographical areas.

One potentially powerful positive factor is the rapidly evolving computer knowledge among Australian children from an early age. It is encouraged by the availability of computers and tablets in the school education systems which makes the current impact more egalitarian than when computers, mobile telephones and tablets were first introduced — in fact it is no longer unusual to see preschool children handling these devices. Digital equipment is becoming commonplace from early primary school and must be seen as a positive force here, and at least potentially beneficial to primary school music education.

The private school system, and the success of tertiary institutions in nurturing Australia’s best talents, are positives, though strictly speaking indicators of inequity. But the success indicates what might result from a more equitable education system.80 Another apparent strength, which is associated in Chart 7 with education, is that community music and festivals appear to be active forces. Community music showed up in Chart 6 as a cultural positive — despite being “possibly patchy”, not unexpected when community activities depend on the support of specific groups of local people. Community music is also listed as a positive force in Chart 8, shown next. In all these cases, however, its local influence is likely to be stronger in some areas than in others.

Infrastructure according to Chart 8 seems to lack red alerts, and there are few amber warning lights. The positive influences include the general availability of major venues for both art and popular music. The submission to the abandoned 2013 federal cultural plan mentioned the positive role of music and other arts associations, not just in promoting further funding and other attention but providing essential sectoral and industry information to the Australian government — one fears often a one-way street.

The development of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is a positive influence which could be further upgraded as a major development which the music sector could ill afford not to promote as a major component of its planning.

Innovation and its associated forces Creativity and Technology are vital to the future of the creative arts, and the largest force of them all is the continued digital “revolution” which has to be regarded as a strong positive despite the havoc it created in the recording industry — what Schumpeter called “creative destruction” as a necessary part of economic development in a capitalistic society.81

Unfortunately in the 2015 context the negatives outweigh the positives as far as music in Australia is concerned. Public funding of innovative projects provides inadequate support for innovative musical projects that are vital for the future viability of the music sector. Multicultural policy has weakened at the same time that migration is bringing a new richness of diversity into the Australian cultural mix, which could be exploited rather than taken for granted. Art music audiences are declining and funding of our great orchestras and opera companies is declining. Popular music delivered over the Internet to millions of consumers is dominated by recordings of overseas origin. Some tertiary music institutions appear to be lagging behind in preparing students for the pitfalls of technology. The median income of creative musicians (despite the long tail of richer individuals in the income distribution) remains stubbornly below the minimum wage of Australian workers, let alone below the levels attained by other professional people.

Finally, there is a perpetual lack of statistical knowledge, now exacerbated by the cutback of new arts statistics which is directly at odds with the need for cultural renewal. Cultural diversity is under threat, and there is no obvious active support for developing the additional statistical knowledge needed to define where Australian could, and should, be going.


The conclusion is preliminary because we don’t have a statistical estimate of the size of the music sector — the next stage of the scenario project scheduled to finish in the third quarter of 2015. However, the analysis in this paper should have provided a reasonable idea of current strengths and weaknesses, based on the general economic assessment in preceding parts of this section, and the specific assessments of the state of the music sector encapsulated in Charts 6 to 9.

The Australian economy in 2015 remains somewhat in the doldrums, seven or eight years after the Global Financial Crisis hit home. Global growth has decelerated further according to the top economic forecasters in the IMF. The growth rate has been repeatedly revised downwards, as late as in January 2015. The IMF does expect some global recovery in 2015 and 2016, but at a modest rate. So the economic environment and the short-term outlook is relatively weak. The restrictive fiscal policy signalled in Australia’s 2014-15 Budget projects further constraints for the ensuing three or four years; the latest Australian Budget assumes growth to recover to 3.5% by 2017-18.82

The question is whether these below-trend projections leave 2015 in a state that doesn’t express the full medium-term capabilities of the Australian economy. It is indeed starting at what is below its potential — for example the unemployment rate has risen from 5.8% in May 2011 to 6.3% in February 2015, during which time the labour force participation rate declined from 65.4% to 64.6%. This must colour the initial period of even the best-case music scenarios — the question is for how long, which is a matter taken up in paper #10 in the series, A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios.

Charts 6 to 9 contain a mixture of items, some of which hinge on the immediate state of the music sector and some which are more relevant to the medium and long term — in other words to the writing of the scenarios in paper #11. For example, it is a positive feature that Australia has strong cultural traditions and that the multicultural influence appears to be strengthening, but it is of more immediate interest that cultural policy is discretionary and can be postponed at least to some extent.

What follows is an attempt to list the salient points that characterise the situation in 2015 (with a general proviso that even the relatively strong areas may be affected in the current economic climate).


  • Popular music performance
  • Private school music education
  • Catering for best talent
  • Community music and festivals
  • Success of Australian high-level musicians abroad


  • Cultural policy, funding actually cut back in 2014-15 Budget
  • State school music education, especially primary
  • Inequities associated with school education
  • Underfunded tertiary music education
  • Underfunding art music
  • Popular digital recordings dominated by imports
  • Declining public funding, especially of creative innovative projects.

While these items cannot be quantified before a proper statistical basis can be built, it seems clear that the weaknesses outweigh the strengths in defining the state of the music sector in 2015. The most economically relevant strength is popular music performance, but the funding cuts and the continued net negative impact of school music education are powerful factors with the potential to damage the future development of Australian musical activity. The situation in 2015 carries a risk that the music sector is becoming increasingly unbalanced by the commercial dominance of popular music performance and imported digital products, and a relative failure to support those genres and activities that cannot survive without public support but are genuine parts of Australian culture.

The scenario stories in paper #10 are designed to define these risks, and how they might be avoided and a healthier musical culture may emerge over the coming two decades.

Articles in This Series

  1. Putting Numbers on Our Cultural Assets: Not Yet Possible   (27.3.2014)
  2. How to Explore the Cultural Future   (7.4.2014)
  3. Cultural and Creative Activity in Australia   (15.4.2014)
  4. Global Risk Factors and Music in Australia   (17.10.2014)
  5. Scenarios, Virtual History, and Chaos   (20.10.2014)
  6. Ideas from Other Global Scenarios   (8.12.2014)
  7. Four Global Scenarios Set the Stage   (18.12.2014)
  8. Music Sector Structure for Scenarios   (28.2.2015)
  9. Valuing the Invaluable   (5.3.2015)
  10. Some Big Possible Positives – Or?   (20.6.2015)
  11. A First Set of Music Sector Scenarios   (23.6.2015)
  12. Global Leadership Challenges: A Missing Link in the Scenario Planning (31.10.2015)
  13. Present and Future Changes and Their Role in the Scenarios   (20.12.2015)
  14. Complex Adaptive Systems and Music   (9.1.2016)


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg and Richard Letts. First draft 9 January 2015. Major revisions 28 February 2015. Section on demographic trends added 26 March 2015. Major revisions 31 March 2015. The scenario model was developed independently over a 12-month period, and the revised paper derived major benefits from the Music Council’s proposal in 2011 responding to the Australian government’s invitation to contribute to a national cultural plan (principal author Richard Letts).


  1. Even the “worst-case” scenario is based on retaining the essential structure. Catastrophic events are outside the scope of scenario planning. If structural change is so devastating that it leads to largely unrecognisable futures the purpose of developing the scenarios is defeated anyway.↩︎
  2. Philip Graham (2012), Digital Value Chains for Music Promotion, Licensing, and Sales↩︎
  3. GDP is closely related to the statistical measure of Domestic Final Demand. To measure economic growth adjusted for price changes, so-called chain volume measures are applied — an improvement on the constant price estimates that were used previously. For further detail see Hans Hoegh-Guldberg (2014) Trends in the Finances of Australian Symphony Orchestras.↩︎
  4. My own “wake-up call” was the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers and William W. Behrens III (1972), an early effort to define the threats. Most economists at the time, including my own colleagues at the time, minimised its importance despite the evident competence of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team. The argument was based on limits to “the exponential growth that drives the world system towards the limits of the earth and ultimate collapse” (p 184). The threat of global climate change was not yet recognised and was not mentioned in the book, but according to Wikipedia (accessed 29.1.15) the Norwegian co-author, Randers, subsequently became Professor of climate strategy at the leading Norwegian Business School, Handelshøyskolen in Oslo. His research interests span scenario planning and system dynamics, climate change and global warming.↩︎
  5. Schumacher’s Chapter 1 contains the following passage: “Fossil fuels are merely a part of the ‘natural capital’ which we steadfastly insist on treating as expendable, as if it were income, and by no means the most’ important part. If we squander our fossil fuels, we threaten civilisation; but if we squander the capital represented by living nature around us, we threaten life itself People are waking up to this threat, and they demand that pollution must stop.”↩︎
  6. A recent article in The Economist (‘The paradox of soil’, 4.4.2015:18-20) shows that “land” can still be described without reference to natural environmental constraints. The article describes how “land” is becoming a constraint on economic growth mainly because housing prices have skyrocketed worldwide, causing greater inequality and a host of structural problems in the major cities. Arguably, widening of the concept to include natural ecological capital would exacerbate the problem.↩︎
  7. Shorthand terms only. The government may simply choose not to involve itself, rather than conducting a “weak” policy. It amounts to similar situations to the extent that these policies are considered desirable by the arts sectors.↩︎
  8. The above quotation is from a recent report commissioned by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Project. John Holden is a Visiting Professor at City University, London, and was previously Head of Culture in a leading British cross-party think tank, Demos.↩︎
  9. In the first decades of the twenty-first century, Indigenous peoples in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific are loudly asserting that they and their distinctive cultures are very much alive (Peter Phipps (2012), Indigenous Festivals in Australia).↩︎
  10. Shorthand for traditional knowledge, which “refers to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities around the world. Developed from experience gained over the centuries and adapted to the local culture and environment, traditional knowledge is transmitted orally from generation to generation. It tends to be collectively owned and takes the form of stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language and agricultural practices, including the development of plant species and animal breeds. Traditional knowledge is mainly of a practical nature, particularly in such fields as agriculture, fisheries, health, horticulture, forestry and environmental management in general”. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) (2007). “Article 8(j): Traditional knowledge and the convention on biological diversity”. Quoted in 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics.↩︎
  11. There is an area outside the “pie”: playing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Home music-making was prevalent in bygone years (and is still among youngsters playing their bands in the family garage). One intention with community music development is to encourage community or personal musical activity. There is, as Dick Letts comments, “an overlap between community music as engendered by formal activity, and music-making that is totally independent of any official or organised actions.” We cannot put an economic value on it, but then Valuing the Invaluable acknowledges that this applies widely to all artistic and ecological matters.↩︎
  12. Julianne Schultz (2012), Rethinking the Place of Arts and Culture in Public Life. Julianne Schultz is a professor in the Centre for Cultural Research at Griffith University, Brisbane, and founding editor of the Australian literary journal Griffith REVIEW.↩︎
  13. The implication is that the music sector model could be applied to any other slice of the “pie”, from Indigenous and heritage to visual and design.↩︎
  14. Music Council of Australia, Proposals for a National Cultural Policy. Submission to the Minister for the Arts, the Hon Simon Crean MP (21 October 2011).↩︎
  15. These concepts were developed in the biological and physical sciences but have proven widely applicable to other “complex adaptive systems.” (Refer Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex, Owl Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York 1994, and Richard Letts’s unpublished manuscript, The Arts on the Edge of Chaos, 1995.↩︎
  16. The Australia Council (for the Arts) was given statutory authority in March 1975 by the Whitlam Labor government, but it was formed in 1967 by Coalition Prime Minister Harold Holt as a body for public funding of the arts and then established by his successor John Gorton in 1968 as part of the Prime Minister’s Department.↩︎
  17. Specifically relating to music, Professor Andy Arthurs noted in Inverting the Pyramid – Investing in our Creative Music Makers (2008): “Public music funding in Australia is an inverted pyramid with about ten times more funding going to the major arts organisations (orchestras and opera companies) than to the rest. Funding for micro businesses is less than 5% of the total available, with small to medium performing arts mopping up around another 10%. … The term “experimental music” carries with it the baggage that such music inevitably attracts small audiences. However it is now apparent, for a variety of reasons, that this need not be the case. Indeed evidence shows that a vibrant music industry is fuelled by the new, the entrepreneurial and the innovative. … Through new practices and ways of reaching audiences the rarefied world of experimental art world becomes part of the far more outwardly reaching “creative industries” sector. … Creativity is a key driver of the 21st century, economically, industrially and socially.”↩︎
  18. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg (2014), The Australian Recording Industry↩︎
  19. John Phillimore (2013), ‘Understanding Intergovernmental Relations: Key Features and Trends’. Australian Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 72-73: 228-238. Professor Phillimore notes a tendency towards general centralisation: “Inevitably, executive federation has a fairly poor record in terms of citizen participation, transparency and accountability.” (p 234)↩︎
  20. These totals exclude circus and physical theatre, comedy and “special events”, relatively small categories.↩︎
  21. The trends are not stable because the presence or lack of major events in any given year are not sufficiently dampened by the use of three-year averages. The general impression from the LPA statistics, however, is that 2007-09 was a happier period than 2010-12 for classical music, opera and ballet. In the single year 2013, classical and ballet showed increases but opera didn’t, but the increase in contemporary music outdid everything else in the music area.↩︎
  22. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg (2014),The Australian Live Performance Industry↩︎
  23. Richard Letts (2008), Government Arts Subsidies and Other Support.↩︎
  24. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg, Cultural Funding by Government (2014) and Federal Budget Hits Arts, Culture, Heritage and Environment (2014).↩︎
  25. Richard Letts (2015), ABC Classic FM as a Dynamic Force in Art Music.↩︎
  26. Richard Letts (2014), Australian Orchestras and Opera Companies Programming Australian Works.↩︎
  27. Alex Masso (2012), Community Choirs in Australia.↩︎
  28. Alex Masso (2012), Community Orchestras in Australia.↩︎
  29. Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Peter Dunbar-Hall, Richard Letts, and Huib Schippers (2009), Sound Links: Community Music in Australia Brisbane: Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre. It is summarised in Community Music: Australia’s “Unsung Hero” by Brydie Leigh-Bartleet (2009).↩︎
  30. Margie Moore (2014), Moorambilla Voices: Up Close in Remote NSW↩︎
  31. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg (2012), Casual Music Workforce. The surveys were conducted by Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA), Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of Arts Victoria, and Ernst & Young (EY) on behalf of APRA|AMCOS.↩︎
  32. Richard Letts and Alex Masso (2010), Jazz in Australia.↩︎
  33. Peter Kennard (2014), Critical Thinking and Multicultural Arts Practice↩︎
  34. Richard Letts (2014), The Cultural Exception.↩︎
  35. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg, Technology and the Recorded Music Industry (2013) and The Australian Recording Industry (2013).↩︎
  36. Quoted under the Cultural Policy heading (Music Council of Australia, Proposals for a National Cultural Policy (21 October 2011)).↩︎
  37. The total childcare industry in 2013 employed 136,600 paid staff, of whom 23,400 worked in preschools, 66,500 in long day care centres, and 46,700 in other childcare centres (family day, in home, occasional, outside school hours, and vacation services).↩︎
  38. An article for the Music in Australia Knowledge Base is being prepared on the Early Childhood Education and Care surveys. Targeted for May 2015.↩︎
  39. See, for example, Michael S. Gazzaniga (2008), Arts and Cognition: Findings Hint at Relationships describing the rapid recent recognition of the connection between music and brain development; Anita Collins (2014), Is it Time to Change Our Tune? about her personal journey from having reading difficulties at age six, overcoming it with the help of a patient music teacher by learning the clarinet at eight, and proceeding to become an academic specialising in neuroscience; and Alan R. Harvey (2011), Evolution: Please Don’t Stop the Music showing the importance of music on human evolution.↩︎
  40. Mandy Stefanakis and Robin Stevens (2013), Summary of International Research into the Benefits of Music Education, and Mandy Stefanakis (2013), The Global Perspective on Music in Education.↩︎
  41. There is greater awareness of research into the strong relationship between music education in the early years and the improved educational outcomes throughout their lives. Benefits include improved problem-solving skills, language skills, mathematical skills, better short and long term memory, social skills and awareness. “Ideally early childhood music programs in our centres should provide opportunities for children to experience a number of varying musical experiences. These opportunities should help foster an awareness and understanding of music and to help children to value and find meaning in their own lives and those of others.” Danger signals include lack of access for many children to early childhood teaching – and many universities have cancelled their music education electives. (Rhonda Davidson-Irwin (2008), Current Trends in Early Childhood Music Education)↩︎
  42. Survey of the Educational Background of the Musicians of the Sydney Symphony, Survey of the Musicians of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Survey of Successful Contemporary Musicians, all by Richard Letts.↩︎
  43. The Music Council submission quoted in the previous section forms the basis for this section.↩︎
  44. Major Research into School Music Education (2013) contains a critical review of Irina Petrova’s PhD thesis which earned her a PhD from the University of New South Wales for her research into school music in Australia. She found school music education to be in a vicious circle due to inadequate primary teacher training. In 2009 when these surveys were conducted, an estimated 63% of all primary schools in Australia had no classroom music. She concluded that Australian primary music education was in a state of crisis, reinforced by the lack of qualifications of many primary music teachers. Less than half the primary teachers surveyed had a high level of musical attainment – the major indicator of primary teachers’ confidence.↩︎
  45. Malcolm Tattersall, who teaches music in the large Far North Queensland city of Townsville, describes a city with a thriving musical life – in relative terms, Melbourne and Sydney with some 25 times Townsville’s population don’t offer a fraction of Townsville’s musical life. A Tropical Abundance – Music in Townsville (2013).↩︎
  46. Richard Letts (2013), The Provision of Music Education in Government Schools in Australia.↩︎
  47. Statistics for South Australia, Tasmania and the two territories are more fragmented; for all the available detail see The Provision of Music Education in Government Schools in Australia referred to in the previous footnote.↩︎
  48. These figures are approximate. See Ian Harvey (2008), Percentages of Public and Independent School Students Receiving a Sequential, Continuous, Developmental Music Education in School.↩︎
  49. Shanghai also topped the 2012 list on reading and science, where Australia scored somewhat better — 12th and 13th, respectively. Compared with 2009, Australia slipped back among the 63 countries and Shanghai and Hong Kong, from 15th place in maths, 9th in reading, and 10th in science. A paper on PISA scores is planned for the Music in Australia Knowledge Base, with a target date of April. It will attempt to explore the level of school music education offered in countries that outrank Australia.↩︎
  50. Richard Letts (2012), Advocacy for Music Education in Schools). C. M. Rubin, who regularly comments on music and other arts education in America’s Huffington Post, sums up the situation in the United States which doesn’t seem dissimilar to Australia’s. (See Hans Hoegh-Guldberg’s review article (2014), The Global Search for Education: Music and Arts in the Curriculum.)↩︎
  51. Richard Letts (2013), [[Survey of Successful Contemporary Musicians]↩︎
  52. Dawkins revolution Wikipedia, accessed 18.2.2015.↩︎
  53. Richard Letts (2011), Short Survey of the Members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra↩︎
  54. Professor Huib Schippers of the Queensland Conservatorium (Griffith University) has said that teaching a singer or instrumentalist is “like pulling teeth”. He does not mean that it is difficult, although it is, but that the teaching can process only one mouth at a time, for music as for dentistry.↩︎
  55. Monash University academic Thomas Reiner notes the challenge to diversified tertiary music teaching as funding declines. The Australian Research Council rarely funds practice-based projects in which the focus is largely on non-traditional research outcomes such as creative work and performances. Large grants tend to go to musicology projects focusing on written publications. Furthermore, academic freedom has suffered while university rulebooks are winning, leading to an increase in administrative staff despite the reduced funding. (Thomas Reiner (2014), Tertiary Music Education in Australia)↩︎
  56. Anne Lierse (2007), Studio Music Teaching in Australia gives an overview. (It needs updating but the description generally remains current.)↩︎
  57. Richard Letts (1996), Why Doesn’t Your Town Have its Own Music School?↩︎
  58. Stephen O’Connell (2014), NSW Regional Conservatoriums.↩︎
  59. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg (2014), Kowmung: A Classical Music Festival. Charisse Ede (2007), Music in the Dandenongs, describes the activities of the Dandenong Ranges Music Council since it was founded in 1979.↩︎
  60. Richard Letts (2008), The Whole of Government Approach.↩︎
  61. Federal Register of Legislative Instruments F2004B00501 — open through↩︎
  62. One of the founders of the SFI was the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, acknowledged in the section on Cultural Policy for his pioneering work on complex adaptive systems.↩︎
  63. Neoclassical economic theory was touched upon in the section called Towards the Final Objective. It treated technology as external.↩︎
  64. Hans Hoegh-Guldberg’s review article (2011) contains a summary of The Nature of Technology.↩︎
  65. See also James Nightingale (2014), The New Music Network.↩︎
  66. More adventurous approaches and journeying into new territories all involve innovation. For example, directions for opera might include a movement from large to medium-scale productions of chamber repertoire, collaborations on new Australian works, or new ventures in regional Australia. Major festivals can play a role in increasing opera’s chances of connecting with an audience for new Australian work, challenging or unknown repertoire or a provocative production treatment. (Lindy Hume, Designing a New Future for Opera in Australia.)↩︎
  67. Philip Graham (2012), Digital Value Chains for Music Promotion, Licensing, and Sales↩︎
  68. Philip Graham (2013), The Cost of the Uncollective Unconsciousness.↩︎
  69. Philip Graham (2012), Why the Music Business Matters.↩︎
  70. The trigger is generally thought to be the widespread use of subprime borrowing in America — characterised by higher interest rates, poor-quality collateral, and less favourable terms to compensate for higher risks. Housing prices during the US “housing bubble” peaked in early 2006 and started to decline in 2006 and 2007. Increased foreclosure rates in 2006-07 among US homeowners led to crisis in August 2008 for the subprime and associated financial markets (Wikipedia). A month later, the severity of the crisis was brought dramatically to the world’s attention with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, a huge 158-year-old firm at the very epicenter of the financial market.↩︎
  71. According to the official statistics for each of these countries, US consumer prices in December 2014 were 0.8% above December 2013; prices in China in January 2015 were 0.8% up on January 2014 (they recovered to a 1.4% rate in February which was also the approximate rate between September and December 2014); in the UK, prices were only 0.3% higher in January 2015 than in the previous January. Part of the reason for these near-deflation rates is the fall in fuel prices, which are excluded with other volatile price items from a “core” consumer price index. Core prices in the UK have increased more though still not rapidly, and the rate of core inflation itself decreased quite steadily from 3% in early 2011 to 1.4% in January 2015. In the Eurozone, the index for fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment declined by 10% from January 2014 to January 2015.↩︎
  72. The Economist discusses the deflation in the 21 February 2015 issue. (‘Free exchange | Worse than nothing’ (p 68) and ‘Feeling down’ (p 13).↩︎
  73. The assassination of the popular political reformer Boris Nemtsov on 27 February could have more serious consequences. See Business Insider Australia for one of many comments on the shooting, by Jeremy Bender. Mr Nemtsov’s daughter was reported to blame Mr Putin directly, but Bender thinks it more likely to be another inside job. Whatever is the truth in this particular case, global scenarios must consider risks of international disharmony, short of global catastrophes which would wreck any basis for remedial action. The Economist‘s weekly obituary on 27 February 2015 featured 55-year-old Boris Nemtsov, “The ruler who never was.”↩︎
  74. This adds to a possible “Brexit” if the right-wing “Eurosceptic” UK Independence Party gains much further power following its victory over the two major British parties in the 2014 EU elections.↩︎
  75. ABC News 20 January 2015: IMF downgrades global growth forecasts.↩︎
  76. Harry Perlich, ‘The Impact of the GFC on Australia as a ‘Dual Economy’, Journal of Australian Political Economy, No. 64, December 2009, 65-90.↩︎
  77. China remains by far the largest market for Australian iron ore, and has also been taking an increasing share of its coal, though still behind Japan in this market. (Minerals Council of Australia (2014). Coal Hard Facts.)↩︎
  78. The Economist 14 March 2015, Special Report: America’s Hispanics, p 4.↩︎
  79. US Bureau of Census, 2014 National Population Projections The total US population is currently forecast to rise from 281.4m in 2000 and 293.7m in 2004 to 321.4m in 2015, 347.3m in 2025 and 370.3m in 2035. More than half of America’s total population growth is attributable to Hispanics — over the total period from 2000 to 2035 Hispanics will account for a projected 55%. It was already estimated to reach 54% between 2000 and 2015.↩︎
  80. One is reminded by this quote from The Economist leader on ‘Nature plus nurture’ (7 March 2015, p 12), on the current ascendancy of female student performance: “Stendhal once wrote that all geniuses who were born women were lost to the public good.”↩︎
  81. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, Fourth edition, London 1954. He concluded his chapter on creative destruction as follows referring to the losing battle of small shops against department stores and supermarkets (p 87): “Now a theoretical construction which neglects this essential element of the case neglects all that is most typically capitalist about it; even if correct in logic as well as in fact, it is like Hamlet without the Danish prince.”↩︎
  82. The 2015-16 Budget was brought down on 12 May 2015, in effect trying to repair the political damage from the previous one, when many of its measures did not pass the Senate where the government lacks a majority. The new Budget may have abandoned the government’s commitment to a robust fiscal plan but may increase investment according to some business leaders. The test will be whether it boosts the competitiveness of Australian firms during a “painfully slow” transition from the mining to other sectors of the economy, mainly in services (The Economist, 16.5.15). In the cultural area, the most dramatic step was redirecting $110m over four years from the Australia Council to the Ministry for the Arts in the Attorney-General’s Department. The Council’s Chair, Rupert Myer AM, commented on the website the morning after the announcement that these measures “will significantly impact the work of the Australia Council on behalf of the arts sector.”↩︎

Hans founded his own consulting firm, Economic Strategies Pty Ltd, in 1984, following 25 years with larger organisations. He specialised from the outset in applied cultural economics — one of his first major projects was The Australian Music Industry for the Music Board of the Australia Council (published in 1987), which also marks his first connection with Richard Letts who was the Director of the Music Board in the mid-1980s. Hans first assisted the Music Council of Australia in 2000 and between 2006 and 2008 proposed and developed the Knowledge Base, returning in an active capacity as its editor in 2011. In November 2013 the Knowledge Base was transferred to The Music Trust, with MCA's full cooperation.

Between 2000 and 2010 Hans also authored or co-authored several major domestic and international climate change projects, using scenario planning techniques to develop alternative long-term futures. He has for several years been exploring the similarities between the economics of cultural and ecological change, and their continued lack of political clout which is to a large extent due to conventional GDP data being unable to measure the true value of our cultural and environmental capital. This was announced as a major scenario-planning project for The Music Trust in March 2014 (articles of particular relevance to the project are marked *, below).

Dr Richard Letts AM is the founder and Director of The Music Trust, founder and former Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia (now Music Australia) and Past President of the International Music Council. He has held senior positions in music and culture in Australia and the United States, advocated for music and music education, conducted research, written policy documents, edited four periodicals, published four books and hundreds of articles.

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