Australia kills young artist development

Australia kills young artist development


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2015

Symphony Australia is giving all sorts of excuses for ending its influential programme for young conductors, composers and performers but the bottom line is… bottom line. There’s no money for new talent down under. Many young hopes will be dashed, and just before the holidays.

Here’s what they are telling past and hopeful beneficiaries of the programme.



australians on beach

Dear ….

I am writing to inform you of changes that will be occurring in Symphony Australia’s Artist Development program from next year. For many years Symphony Australia has offered a national training program for emerging musicians on behalf of our member orchestras, the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, Tasmanian and West Australian Symphony Orchestras. The opportunities provided by this program have assisted the careers of many composers, performers and conductors and we are proud of the results and the successes of our alumni.

The orchestras have identified that there is duplication between this national artist development program and their own activities in this area, which have developed significantly over recent years. As a result, from 2016 we will substantially reduce our Artist Development program and from 2017 Symphony Australia will cease its Artist Development activities. The orchestras’ individual programs will continue to provide a wide range of training and professional development opportunities, and they remain fully committed to supporting young Australian artists who show potential and are likely to make their career as musicians.

In 2016 we will continue to host a number of Conductor Development activities, including our residential Summer School (in conjunction with the TSO). We will also maintain our long partnership with the Australian Youth Orchestra in offering orchestral and music presentation Fellowship opportunities as well as supporting the Sydney Symphony’s Orchestral Fellowship program. We will co-commission several new works from Australian composers on behalf of the orchestras and co-present a Composer Development school with the TSO.

However, from 2017 this activity will cease to be offered nationally through Symphony Australia, and opportunities will instead be provided by the individual orchestras, reflecting a national focus while also addressing their own state’s particular priorities. The orchestras will collaborate to ensure a range of programs is available to meet the needs of developing artists and Symphony Australia will collate these into a database that can be accessed by any young artist for up-to-date information about opportunities in their state. We will also incorporate a number of relevant opportunities that are not hosted by our member orchestras. This database will be available before the end of 2016.

For the past few years, Symphony Australia has managed the Young Performers Awards on behalf of its partner, the ABC. As a result of these changes, Symphony Australia will no longer be running YPA and we have been informed by the ABC that it is also not in a position to re-assume responsibility for directly managing the competition. YPA will therefore not be continuing into the future.

The Young Performers Awards has a long and rich history, and we are conscious of the impact this decision may have on some members of the arts community. We are grateful to the many supporters of the competition and assure you that the orchestras remain committed to supporting young and emerging performers in other ways.

Symphony Australia will continue to provide a range of other services to its member orchestras and the wider orchestral community. We look forward to working with the orchestras to communicate their activities in the Artist Development arena and thank you for your support of the program over the years.

Best wishes for a happy and safe festive season, and a successful 2016.

Kate Lidbetter
Chief Executive Officer


  • Eddie Mars says:

    No money? There’s always money if the politicians want it. No willingness, no support. Utterly gutless.

    Exactly what we could expect of fishwife Julie Bishop.

  • Mark Winn says:

    This will (has?) happen (ed) in Europe too…..

  • Steven says:

    A very sad day for the Musical Arts in Australia. Having gone through Symphony Australia’s Conductors Program myself as well as having worked with many talented young musicians who have been involved in the Young Performers Award this is a huge loss for the country. The Australian orchestras, while providing some opportunities for emerging conductors, performers and composers don’t provide nearly the same number of opportunities to nearly the same number of people that Symphony Australia does (did) through their programs. I wonder what the real reason for the change is???

  • AP says:

    I don’t remember that photo been taken on the courses that I was involved in.