Despite the chilly Canberra weather the atmosphere this past week at the Women in the Creative Arts conference has been incredibly warm. The academic papers, panels, performances and the rigorous discussions were all under-girded with encouragement and cheers of support. 

WICA composers, performers, academics. Photo William Hall

I was able to witness the impact Women of Note has had in the landscape, something I hadn’t realised from Perth. I was told countless stories about how my book had influenced people in their commissioning, their perfoming, and their careers.

Photo William Hall

 I was overwhelmed by how much people felt supported and affirmed by my work. And it was so exciting to see the next generation of composers learning from the work of their forebears:

“….I confess to my shame I hadn’t heard of Margaret Sutherland before now…”..
“…. a couple of years ago I read your book and decided I wanted to meet Helen Gifford, to see her, to commission her…”
“…the bridge building you are doing for the music industry is so important…”

Liza Lim, Natalie Williams, Mathew Dewey (ABC), Naomi Johnson (ABC), Lisa Cheney
There are are significant changes afoot around the visibility and celebration of our women composers and I am so excited to be part of it.  47 papers, 4 recitals, 5 keynotes and 3 panels later I think some of the changes are going to stick this time around. In the immediate future:

* Cat Hope has offered to host the conference next year at Monash.
* Vanessa Tomlinson will be rollling out her research from Queensland University to include every tertiary institution documenting the works that are being performed in graduation recitals. 
* Joanna Drimatis is collating a database of graded works for performance by schools and community groups.

Add that to the ongoing work from the Hildegard Commissioning Project, the findings from the APRA/AMCOS commissioned report on results from RMIT research, the Skipping a Beat report, the Australian Women Screen Composers report, and there is a sense of growing awareness and action toward increasing visibility for women composers. 

I’ll post my keynote paper soon to add to the discussion. 

With the magnificent composer Judith Clingan

I have the satisfied feeling that my book has done what it was meant to do.
I sold out of copies of Women of Note at the conference. Which means my print run with Fremantle Press is finished and it is time for an eBook. 

So now it is time to head back home to my family, filled with a warm glow, and work out where to from here. 
Huge thanks to Natalie Williams and ANU for hosting this incredible event.

conference director Natalie Williams