6 key Music Victoria achievements during Patrick Donovan’s tenure
Last week Music Victoria’s inaugural CEO, Patrick Donovan, announced he was leaving the peak contemporary music body this year after taking the helm in August 2010.
“A lot has changed since then and it’s been wonderful to have played a part in a dynamic body in this creative and passionate industry,” he explained.
“Ten years seemed like a logical time to pass on the baton to a new CEO who can build on our work over the last decade.’’
Minister for creative industries Martin Foley lauded Donovan’s leadership skills and for being “an incredible ambassador and champion for Victoria’s music scene”.
Other music execs told TMN that Donovan’s background as long time entertainment writer for Melbourne’s The Age, and adjunct professor of RMIT’s Bachelor of Arts (Music Business) course, resulted in his ability to be impartial and look at the big picture enough to pick his battles.
He grew Music Victoria to a staff of 10 and membership to 6,000.
He delivered major projects including the Victorian Music Development Office, Live Music Professionals, the Cultivate women’s leadership project and the Music Victoria Awards.
These are six of Music Victoria’s major achievements over the past ten years.
1. Agent of Change
The idea of regulatory reform to protect existing venues from residential development in an entire state was a world-first.
The named agent of change was devised at a Music Victoria meeting.
Apart from inspiring Perth, Canberra and Newcastle, Melbourne was revealed by San Francisco, Edinburgh, Bangkok, Amsterdam and London as their blueprint to protect their clubs.
2. Gender Equality
Back in 2005, long before the #MeToo movement, Donovan had committed the association to gender equality in its workplace, awards nominations and career development.
This followed a Music Victoria survey which tapped into the issues considered most challenging to women and those identifying as females.
Music Victoria’s board has more females, 63% of its education committee are female students and 70% of the Face the Music conference volunteers are female.
3. First Nations Partnership
In August 2020, Music Victoria appointed Torres Strait island woman Kerry Kennell to its board to ensure First Nations voices heard, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation, the peak body for First Nations music in Victoria to work closely on regular events.
Songlines co-CEO Robbie Bundle called it “a milestone of cultural recognition”.
4. Spotlight On Regionals
In an Australia-first, Music Victoria’s Music Crawl series took busloads of local musicians, agents, media, promoters and venue owners to dozens of regional towns to meet and interact with counterparts.
The result was a greater awareness of regional music, greater funding and live music strategies from some councils in Ballarat, Geelong and Mornington Peninsula, and the first three Crawls generating new business of up to $357,000.
5. The Live Music Census
Another groundbreaking initiative provided data on the health of the industry, its dollar value, patron attendance, employment, safety & inclusion and audience share compared to other recreational activities.
Providing credible data opened up greater understanding by government and councils for funding and policy strategies, and generated interest from private investors.
The data also showed Melbourne had more music venues per capita than any other city in the world.
This was relayed internationally, giving the city a strong brand as the live music capital of the world, greater exposure, and which saw Music Victoria nominated for Best Global Music Office at the inaugural Music Cities Awards this month.
6. The 10 Point Plan
The Victorian Live Music 10 Point Plan is a national and international blueprint on Melbourne’s successful collaboration between the industry, businesses and government.
It is based on initiatives developed with partners and stakeholders including the state government of Victoria, Fair Go 4 Live Music, Save Live Australia’s Music (S.L.A.M) and venue and studio owners, promoters and academics.
Among its points are the need to keep lockouts from the state, being smart and skilled, resorting to people power rallies if need be, communicating the industry’s value to others, and lobbying for funding in a clear precise way.
Music execs tell TMN that what the 10-point doesn’t include is how Donovan and his team did the work for the government to make it easy to get initiatives green-lighted.
Millions of dollars of pro bono work, from lawyers to town planners, were used to provide evidence and back-up figures to quickly show politicians how a proposal would be beneficial to the industry, the state and themselves.
That the Victorian government’s investment in its music industry is the highest of all the states has been the cause of envy from the rest of Australia.
Donovan is yet to reveal his next move.