Page 1004 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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funding from a private philanthropic source, and possibly from the Commonwealth? What impact will this funding have on the local arts community? What assistance has the ACT government given to classical music in Canberra?

MR STANHOPE: It is a very important question. Today is a very exciting day for people involved in music and the provision of music in Canberra. Yesterday and today there have been media announcements regarding additional funding to classical music in Canberra. They signify a vote of confidence in the quality of music produced within the Canberra community.

Members of the Assembly will be aware of the story on the front of today’s Canberra Times concerning a most generous gift from Mrs Barbara Blackman to the local music community. I personally—and I think I speak for other members—thank Mrs Blackman for her generosity: a gift of $1 million to Canberra’s arts to establish Enterprises for Contemporary Music Audiences to be centred in Canberra. This is obviously one of the most substantial philanthropic gestures that our local arts community has ever seen—if not the most generous.

I understand that Mrs Blackman’s connection with Canberra goes back nearly forty years with the National Library and the National Gallery. She recently returned to Canberra to live. Mrs Blackman has enthusiastically embraced contemporary music since first hearing a piece that she says inspired her almost sixty years ago. I understand that she is eager to pass on her thirst and thrill for contemporary music as a patron of audiences. Her gift to the ACT music community is a gift to audiences yet to experience what Canberra has to offer.

I was very pleased to meet Mrs Blackman last week at the time of listening to a solo cello performance by Julian Thompson at the launch of the International Chamber Music Festival, at which Mrs Blackman was the honoured guest.

The status and role of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra has been acknowledged in the federal government’s review of orchestras, which has recommended that the Canberra Symphony Orchestra receive annual funding from the Commonwealth of $100,000. This recommendation is very welcome. I certainly hope that it will come to fruition. The ACT government has, for many years, sought federal funding for our professional orchestra and to place it as part of the national network of orchestras. In the past it has been left to the ACT government and other organisations from within the Canberra community. I think most especially the Canberra Labor Club provides support to allow the Canberra Symphony Orchestra to continue.

The ACT government has made strong representations to the review. We would like to continue talking to the federal government about its financial commitment and hope, at the very least, that the Commonwealth will match the ACT government’s funding of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

The government is very committed to classical music and has supported this art form for many years. For example, the ACT government is supporting the Canberra Symphony Orchestra with three-year funding of $675,000. This is to present an annual series of four subscription symphonic concerts at Llewellyn Hall and a prom concert at Government House.

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