AWMAs founder Vicki Gordon nominated for AFR women of influence awards
These “recognise the most influential, inspirational and visionary women”, with this year’s list including those working in business, academia, science, climate activism, media and sports.
Gordon was not only acknowledged for her role as director and creative producer of the AWMAs, which launched last year but for her long-time work in cultural and gender diversity, especially with First Nation talent.
In the early ‘90s, she set up the country’s first Australian Women’s Rock Institute.
“It operated on the smell of an oily rag but with great support from men and women in the music industry to improve the status of women,” Gordon says.
The board’s male directors included record producer Mark Moffatt, Sony ATV’s Damien Trotter and producer Martin Fabinyi.
Over seven years, the institute under her helm produced Australia’s first Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women’s contemporary music festival (With Open Eyes), first all-girl rock festival (Fast Forward) and the first training program for female DJ’s.
She also managed singer/songwriters Brenda Webb, Emma Donovan and Ursula Yovich producing Webb’s ARIA-nominated debut single and video Little Black Girl and Donovan’s EP and video tribute to the stolen generations Ngarraanga, and produced the global success Barefoot Divas.
Gordon says, “That was the beginning of a very long journey in terms of state and federal advocacy for women in the music industry.”
In the 90s, she recalls, the conversation around gender and diversity “was pretty much sidelined in a tokenism kind of way. The challenges and the fights were just enormous.
“The industry was certainly not ready to engage with the sort of conversations we’re seeing now.
“When I launched the women’s awards, one of the things I said was, I believed that history was now on our side.”
This year’s AWMAs, held in October in Brisbane and with support from the Queensland government, had double the nominations from the first.
The final nominations are announced on Thursday (September 12).
The impact of the first Australian Women in Music Awards was immediate, with emotional scenes as women were finally acknowledged for their talents and contributions.
Gordon adds, “As far as its impact on the sector, we saw ARIA introduce a number of women on their board earlier this year, and we’ve seen a number of organisations step up and strongly come to the table about the conversation on how we improve diversity in the sector.”
She believes that being the sole AFR nominee from the music and arts sector is significant.
“It’s wonderful at a time when small to medium arts organisations are being defunded.
“Two or three weeks ago 149 were defunded, including music associations as Music Tasmania.
“At a time when arts and culture associations are growing under pressure, and not receiving the support they deserve from both state and federal governments, what the AFR list does is to put women in music and the music industry back on the agenda.”