By Associate Professor Kim Cunio
The ANU School of Music has been hit like much of the ANU by COVID-19. Our 2020 story was pretty similar to many other stories; finding ways to make remote learning possible; finding ways to bring our students back to campus in Semester 2; and then finding ways to make the savings envelope so desperately needed by the ANU.
On one level our story is not remarkable at all, but on another level it is, because less than 10 years ago the ANU School of Music was on its knees, struggling with falling student numbers, a massive change management plan and a dramatic community backlash. Staff commented on how far we have come in recent years as we met our financial challenges with a proposal to make significant cuts but without academic redundancies. In essence our music school found a way to decide for itself where difficult cuts would be made in difficult times. At the end of last year we were pretty exhausted and felt we had got through the worst. Things are never quite that simple.
In 2021 there are still major changes in process and we have a modest drop in student numbers for the first time in five years as interstate students choose to stay at home rather than risk being locked up in Canberra. Yet the big picture goes on, we are about to open a free First Nations recording studio and go onto country to record First Nations music as defined by First Nations people. We are planning a major development to our performance offerings for 2022 and we are collaborating across and beyond the university. As they say the show must go on …
Associate Professor Kim Cunio, Head of the School of Music at the ANU, is an activist composer interested in old and new musics and the role of intercultural music in making sense of our larger world. A scholar, composer and performer, Cunio embodies the skills of the exegetical artist, showing that writing and making art are part of the same paradigm of deep artistic exploration. The ANU School of Music is entering a new renaissance, again valued by the university and the community of Canberra due to the work of its academic staff and the fearlessness of its students.