Music Australia CEO Chris Bowen will depart at the end of 2017 after five years in the role, the peak body announced Tuesday morning.
Bowen is just the second CEO in the 25-year history of the umbrella body, which provides information, resources, advocacy and projects to advance all aspects of musical life Down Under.
With Bowen at the helm, Music Australia underwent a slew of developments and upgrades, from its rebranding in 2014 to the rollout of new services and digital assets, and the launch of a new national conference, the Contemporary Music Roundtable, which was held across three days in August and gathered such speakers as Andrew Jenkins, President, Universal Music Publishing Group (Australia and Asia Pacific); outgoing APRA AMCOS CEO Brett Cottle and ABC Music head Chris Scaddan.
Last year, Bowen led a partnership of 13 peak agencies to produce the first ever national contemporary music plan, creating a blueprint for industry development. Also, the lobby body’s national school music engagement program ‘Music: Count Us In’ “grew significantly” under his guidance, according to the organization, with 30 percent of Australian schools now taking part. It’s recognized as one of the world’s largest school music participation programs, bringing together 2,500 schools and 600,000 student each year.
“Chris has overseen a significant transformation of Music Australia, and has positioned it as a strategic contributor to the development of the sector,” comments Music Australia chair Michael Smellie. “An example is the Contemporary Music Roundtable conference he developed, which has represented a high point in Music Australia’s history”.
Bowen took the top job at Music Australia when he succeeded its founder Dr Richard Letts AM in 2013, back when the organization was known as Music Council of Australia.
Prior to that, Bowen served in a clutch of key arts roles in Queensland, including Director Dance and Music at Arts Queensland, and before that as General Manager of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and Brisbane Powerhouse and as Director of Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre.
“The national overview afforded by this position and the connections with so many talented professionals across the artform has been one of the real privileges of this job,” adds Bowen in a statement announcing his planned departure. “A highlight has been the close cooperation forged across multiple music education and contemporary industry bodies. This has strengthened our voice in Canberra and is delivering solid policy outcomes” he said.
“I am indebted to the many people who have so generously given their time and expertise to support Music Australia during my tenure – I thank you all! For my part, after thirty-five years in the industry, I have decided it is time to leave salaried employment, ease back, and plan a few small musical activities in Brisbane’s Samford Valley.”
Established in 1994 by Letts, Music Australia represents the various stakeholders in the Australian music foodchain and has emerged as a platform for various cross- sector initiatives, including major advocacy campaigns for music education, community initiatives, live music, and protecting Australian music in rights legislation and trade agreements. It’s supported by the Australian Department of Education and Training and a range of other funding partners.
The Music Australia board will now embark on a recruitment process with the position to be advertised nationally from Wednesday. The new hire is anticipated to come on board in 2018.