Rich talent and education at the heart of our musical city

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By Shanelle Franklin

Adelaide is home to an experienced pool of individuals working on major world-class arts and music festivals, according to the state’s music industry body.

Music SA’s general manager Lisa Bishop says the live music industry also offers many opportunities with boutique music festivals and club nights contributing to a “thriving sector”.

“Our thriving venue-based live music sector offers jobs ranging from, but not limited to, promoters, bookers, merchandisers, sound engineers, tour managers and publicists,” she says.

South Australia is home to a number of major annual music events and festivals including the upcoming Adelaide Fringe (February 15–March 17), WOMADelaide (February 8–11), Superloop Adelaide 500 concerts (February 28–March 3), as well as smaller boutique events such as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Handpicked Festival, Stonecutters Festival and Umbrella Festival.

But SA’s music industry not only holds opportunities in industry-based roles – but also jobs in the spotlight. Maggie Collins is the brains behind Brisbane’s BIGSOUND, one of the biggest events on the Aussie music calendar. She says Adelaide is brimming with musical talent.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Photo: SATC.

“The talent per capita is one of the stand-out elements that comes to mind of the SA music industry,” she says. “It’s inspiring to watch from afar that SA has great quality workers and artist representatives who are lovely to work with on any project.”

Adelaide was designated as Australia’s first and only City of Music in 2015, becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The network was created in 2004 and currently promotes 116 cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Director of the UNSECO Adelaide office, Rebecca Pearce, says Adelaide was recognised as a City of Music because creativity, the arts and music are woven into the city’s fabric and are central to the state’s development.

“It not only looks at our extensive history, but also how far we can grow our urban culture,” she says.

Adelaide has birthed a number of hugely successful talents, including international pop sensation Sia, hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods, pop singer Guy Sebastian, opera’s Greta Bradman, rock legends Cold Chisel, ’90s rock group The Superjesus, and rap queen Tkay Maidza, all of which have established international fan bases.

Adelaide rap queen Tkay Maidza has gone on to achieve massive success.

SA is also known as the festival state, hosting internationally renowned four-day world music festival WOMADelaide, which attracts attendances beyond 86,000, almost half of which travel from outside the state.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest cabaret festival in the world, while the Adelaide Guitar Festival is the most significant of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and OzAsia all include strong music programs, while our city is also home to the oldest tertiary school in Australia, the Elder Conservatorium founded in 1883.

Music also plays a part in our youth’s future learning, with the State Government throwing its support behind the Music Education Strategy. According to the strategy, music education helps build confidence, promote creativity and assist students to develop emotional and behavioural awareness. Musically trained children perform better and use language more effectively and earlier, it says.

Music SA’s Lisa Bishop says a number of education institutions exist in Adelaide, including the Sia Fuller Institute, SAE Institute, Fresh 92.7 radio station and Music SA itself. Each run a variety of music courses, with Musica Viva – Australia’s oldest independent performing arts organisation – and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra also running workshops.

“There are networking opportunities at free public workshops run by Music SA, Northern Sound System and local councils,” she says. “The Music Development Office also runs a grant program to help people collaborate with other songwriters, as well as set up their own mini music festival or event.”

Triple J breakfast radio presenter Liam Stapleton begun his radio career as a teenager at Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide. He says the city’s community radio sector was a launching pad for him to hone his skills and build on-air experience.

“Without volunteering in community radio, I don’t think I’d be working in radio,” Liam says. “It gave me experience and stacks of time on-air to hone my craft, my craft of talking. It’s harder than it looks.”

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