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Top research grant goes to Griffith University

Professor Huib Schippers, Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, heads an international team which has been awarded one of the largest single arts research grants by the Australian Research Council.

The Council approved to support Professor Schippers’ project, ‘Sustainable futures for music cultures: Towards an ecology of musical diversity’, with a total budget of more than $5.1 million.

The project runs for five years (2009-2013), during which the ARC grant will support fieldwork, meetings, and a team of fifteen researchers collaborating across the globe.

“This is a wonderful outcome for almost two years of work, research, and preparation with our Australian and international partners,” said Professor Schippers, who was in Canberra with Dr Richard Letts, the President of partner organisation the International Music Council.

“The hard work now begins, but we thank the Australian Research Council for seeing the benefits that this international research project can deliver to Australia and the world of music at large.”

Working with a worldwide partnership of universities and non-government organisations, Professor Schippers’ research project seeks to understand the dynamics for survival of music cultures.

“It is well documented that musical diversity is under serious threat with globalisation: the explosive growth of travel, migration, business, communication and technology, as well as sweeping social and economic change.”

“While some music cultures have adapted successfully to changing environments, others find themselves at crossroads, as evidenced most poignantly in Australia with Indigenous musical styles”

Drawing from a sample of both vibrant and endangered music cultures, this project will deliver new understandings of the challenges for music in need of safeguarding, as well as practical tools to assist communities to forge their own futures.

The project has been designed in close collaboration and 18 months of detailed negotiations with the International Music Council (founded by UNESCO), and more recently with the Music Council of Australia and the University of Lund.

In addition to these partner organisations, three Australian universities are involved: Griffith, Sydney and Macquarie. International key partners include the University of Washington (US), the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (UK), the University of Otago (Dunedin), and University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Arts (UK).

There are also collaborations with World Music and Dance Centre (Netherlands), the International Centre for African Music and Dance (Ghana), Sangeet Research Academy (India), Hanoi Conservatorium (Vietnam), Sibelius Academy (Finland), Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico), and the Federal University of Rio Grande del Sul (Brazil), which can be finalised now the proposal has been approved.

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