Plans to scrap ANAM (Australian National Academy of Music)

October 26, 2008 § 6 Comments

This is my open letter to Minister Garrett and a reply from Lindsay Tanner regarding this issue. I will publish any correspondence I may receive from him.

October 26, 2008

The Honorable Peter Garrett AM, MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives, Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600

Dear Minister Garrett,

It is with shock and dismay that I hear of your plans to scrap the Australian National Academy of Music’s funding from 2009. This institution provides the cream of Australia’s young musicians with access to the best mentoring and “on the job training”.

Until the creation of this Academy, this type of post-graduate training could only be achieved by travel overseas, removing young musicians from all-important networks in Australia, not to mention creating extreme financial hardship for them.

Removing them from networks here causes them to “miss the boat” with important early professional engagements and other contacts within the slender opportunities that Australia has for people in this industry.

The publicly funded costs to train an Olympic athlete are astronomical
. A conservative estimate is that each gold medal at the Olympics over the past 20 years has cost the taxpayer around 40 million dollars. Apparently, it costs around 2.5 million to fund the entire Australian National Academy of Music for one year! Surely Australia’s young elite music talent deserves the best possible training in order to flourish in what is a fiercely competitive field.

I have been a supporter of ALP policies and philosophy for all of my adult life, and was thrilled at the ALP victory in last year’s Federal election. In this case I fear you are making a grave error of judgment and urge you to reconsider your position on this vital contributor to Australia’s cultural wealth.

I look forward to your considered response to this important question about the future of classical music in Australia.


Alex Millier
Principal Bass Clarinet
West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Cc Stephen Smith Federal Member for Perth

Reply from Lindsay Tanner, Federal member for Melbourne and Minister for Finance and Deregulation.

Dear Alex

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the Australian National Academy
of Music (ANAM).

The Australian Government remains committed to the provision of elite-level
classical music training in Australia

It is the view of the Government however that ANAM can no longer be
considered the most effective or efficient means of delivering classical
music training which bridges the gap between tertiary studies and
professional practice.

Over a period of six months, the Government sought from ANAM an assurance
they would implement a number of critical reforms to improve governance and
operational arrangements.

Unfortunately ANAM were unable to satisfactorily address these concerns.

Therefore, the Government believes that the funding previously provided to
ANAM could be spent more effectively to deliver support for emerging
classical musicians.

On Friday 31 October, Arts Minister Peter Garrett met with a number of
representatives from the sector, including a delegation of ANAM students,
and reiterated the Government’s determination to provide ongoing funding for
our talented musicians.

The Government is now investigating possible models for the most effective
delivery of elite-level classical music training in Australia and expects to
announce an alternative shortly which will ensure continuity for students
and provide a stable, long-term program for music training.

Thank you for writing on this important matter.

Yours sincerely

Lindsay Tanner
Federal Member for Melbourne | Minister for Finance and Deregulation |
Canberra: (02) 6277 7400 | (02) 6267 4110 | | Parliament House CANBERRA ACT
Melbourne: (03) 9347 5000 | (03) 9347 1351 | 102 Victoria St CARLTON VIC

—–Original Message—–
From: Alex Millier []
Sent: Monday, 27 October 2008 5:21 PM
To: Tanner, Lindsay (MP)
Subject: ANAM cuts

Dear Lindsay

I sincerely hope these funding cuts to ANAM can be reversed.
As an ALP supporter I feel quite shocked to see an important organisation
like this go under.

Please reconsider the situation.

I have enclosed my letter to Minister Garrett for your consideration.

Kind regards

Alex Millier
Principal Bass Clarinet
WA Symphony Orchestra.


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§ 6 Responses to Plans to scrap ANAM (Australian National Academy of Music)

  • alexmillier says:

    If scrapping important cultural institutions in Australia were what Kev and Julia had in mind for their “education revolution”, then this resembles Maoist China in the 60s and 70s rather than Australia in 2008.

  • Yvonne says:

    I’m most disturbed by this: “A spokesman for the Federal Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, says the academy no longer represents the best way to support Australia’s elite performing arts sector.”

    Not so much because he’s made that assessment, but because he gives no indication of what is the best way to support our performing arts elite. And that’s the question we need to be asking.

    For example, when ANAM was first announced it was a senior person from the Curtis Institute, no less, who said that unless it were made open to all comers (not just Australians and New Zealanders) then it would never truly fulfil its brief, because the students would be exposed only to the best of their peers in Australasia and not the best of their peers at the broader international level.

    It’s hard to tell whether ANAM nowadays is open to “all comers” – the website is ambiguous and incomplete on this front – but the student list doesn’t seem to include any overseas students. There is mention of exchange programs with similar institutions in 2009…

    But my point is that there’s certainly more than one way to nurture elite performers in music. The Curtis comment is just one example of how an objective assessment of ANAM may find some aspect of it wanting, even as it shows itself to be valuable and providing for a very clear need.

    If the honest conclusion is that ANAM isn’t “the best way”, that’s fine. But only if “the best way” is then implemented and supported in its place. Only if.

  • […] Millier, Principal Bass Clarinet, West Australian Symphony Orchestra (read letter) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Australian National Academy of Music […]

  • […] Plans to scrap ANAM (my open letter to Peter Garrett) […]

  • This is the first time I commented here and I must say that you give genuine, and quality information for other bloggers! Good job.
    p.s. You have an awesome template . Where have you got it from?

  • alexmillier says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I got my template from the wordpress one called “rounded”.

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