In this politically bizarre time, full of funding cuts, disinterested politicians, and an anti-evidence culture, it is important to support things that deserve supporting. In this case, the ABC Classic FM program New Music Up Late.
I urge anybody reading this, if they have not already, to sign the petition (linked at the bottom), even if it doesn’t amount to achieving anything. On the page for the petition is also the email addresses of the ABC management involved in this decision making, and I urge people to seriously consider emailing these folks directly in support of NMUL.
Here is the email I just sent, which also serves to outline why I think it’s important that this radio program stays on air:
I am writing to you with great concern over the future of the radio program New Music Up Late, which I understand is set to no longer broadcast in 2015, with its content being moved to digital versions instead. I must implore you and the rest of the ABC management not to do this, for a number of reasons which I will outline below.
– New Music Up Late supports Australian composers & creators of art music.
Why does this matter? Because the majority of the airwaves that deal with art music – particularly on a national level and much like our institutions – are preoccupied with the music of long-dead European men. There is not a single other music on the planet that is as concerned with the music of dead forebears, especially with such geographically limited dead forebears, as the “Classical” institute. New Music Up Late is therefore an incredibly important program that contributes to the cultural profile of our country and the art music that is made here, and Julian does an excellent job of researching and presenting this aspect of new music.
– New Music Up Late supports new music.
Why does this matter? This should be fairly obvious, but Mozart was once new and scary, so was Beethoven, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and so on. I strongly believe that more new music from all around the world should be included on ABC Classic FM and every other broadcaster of art music, but that NMUL and its ilk are the most important platforms for the presentation of music by living composers from around the world. As in the above point, if we keep worshipping the dead, we will never acknowledge the genius of the living.
– Not everybody has, or wishes to utilise, the internet
By making the content accessible online only, you will preclude huge swathes of the population from accessing this new art. There are, believe it or not, people who live outside of the metropolitan regions and do not have, or do not use the internet for radio. Often radio is the only means people have of engaging with the music of our time and our country, to deny them this is akin to telling them that they don’t actually exist.
Despite your budget cuts, I implore you not to cut out the music of our time and place from the national broadcaster. Have a look at the celebration of intellectual and artistic output that occurs in many parts of Europe in relation to modern, living art. The ABC, and the nation as a whole, should be doing more than it currently is, not less. By removing NMUL from broadcast you and the other managers at the ABC are reinforcing a culture of devaluation of art in Australian society that is seriously misplaced.
Link to another open letter, from the Australian Music Centre: