The best thing about my job?
I've been in this job for about nine months now and I find it enormously interesting, exciting, and challenging. The network is an increasingly active contributor to community-based music making, we're quietly busily about the work of researching the activities and needs of community music groups, providing information to them, and preparing for bigger things to come.
Just recently I've discovered what may well be the most rewarding aspect of my job. Since announcing the Music in Communities Awards I am receiving a steady stream of emails and phone calls from people to discuss their musical activity or one in their community that they'd like to enter in the awards.
I'm hearing from a wide range of people, from all across the country. What all of them have in common, without exception, is a great deal of pride in their local musical activities.
In some cases a group has just started which is making a difference to people who wouldn't otherwise have a place to play or sing music together. In some cases there's a group in their area that has been running for years which has been quietly organising musical activities which are much loved by all of the participants. In some cases a long-running group has recently had a new burst of activity and they're very proud of what they've achieved.
Having people tell about these things is definitely one of the most satisfying parts of the job. The purpose of the Music in Communities is really to acknowledge exemplar programs, groups and activities around the country and for us to find out what's happening in the community. This year's awards will be no different, it seems to me that there are plenty of musical activities that encourage older Australians to make music.
There is one common question that I'm hearing a lot. "Is my group eligible?" Some people aren't sure whether their group needs to be part of an incorporated organisation, some aren't sure whether being part of a large organisation (such as a nursing home or council) makes them ineligible. Maybe it's because everyone is used to reading fine print in grant applications and awards that deem them ineligible on a technicality.
My answer is always that we have kept the eligibility criteria deliberately open so that we can hear about all of the community-based music activities wherever they occur. They may be run by a large nursing home, they may be run by an individual with no connection to any organisation. We want to hear about all of these things! As long as they involve people participating in music making and fit the theme (this year it's Creative Ageing).
17 September 2012