The Goulburn Regional Conservatorium commenced its existence in 1985 as the Goulburn Regional Music Centre. The founding Director was the noted composer and musician, Paul Paviour OAM.
The Goulburn Music Centre was the eighth such centre established by the NSW Conservatorium. Its initial aim was to fulfill a need within the local community for quality music tuition and to support the fledgling Associate Diploma in Music course then on offer at TAFE. However, it was also clear from the outset that the Centre had a long-term goal to deliver courses up to the level of Diploma and beyond. In the early days, there was talk of setting up a comprehensive performing arts centre in Goulburn to cater for other artistic endeavors as well as music. This is a goal that remains to be achieved.
Without doubt, the driving force behind the establishment of the Music Centre was Paul Paviour. His vision and commitment to the cause have ensured the ongoing success of the centre, which has continued until the present day. The name of the music centre changed to being the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium Music Centre in 1993, and shortened in 2002 to the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium (GRC), bringing it into line with the other 14 Regional Conservatoriums.
In the early years there were significant challenges pertaining to the housing of the Music Centre. When it opened in 1985, teaching was confined to two rooms within the TAFE campus. As student numbers increased, this arrangement became increasingly unsustainable and issues were compounded in 1986 when the TAFE campus was closed for one year in order to renovate the building. This resulted in Music Centre lessons being delivered in the local Baptist Hall and in various private homes. In 1987 the Conservatorium found a more permanent home in Verner Street and there it grew and established itself for the next nine years. In January 2006, the GRC relocated to 160 Bourke St (the “Old TAFE Campus”) because of negotiations in 2005 between then Director, Stephen O’Connell, the NSW Department of Education, and Training’s Minister of the day, the Hon. Carmel Tebbutt.
The Directors - their Legacy
Since its inception the GRC has had seven Directors – Paul Paviour OAM, Russell Cooper, Corinne Laird, Vanessa Woodhill, Maree McGrath, Stephen O'Connell and current Director, Paul Scott-Williams. . There have been eight Chairmen of the Board of Management - Leonard Robinson, Adrian Ormiston, Jack Micklethwaite, Dr Michael Barkl, Dr Robert Arthurson, Dr. Chris Devery, Stephen Hart and Norman Meader. Lastly there have been in excess of 50 members of the Board of Management - people who have given their time freely in order to help ensure the ongoing success of the GRC.
Funding and Growth
Challenges in the early years were not confined to the housing of the GRC. Funding levels were substantially inadequate, making it extremely difficult to employ administration staff. Without the rent-free premises, which were previously supplied by TAFE, courtesy of the NSW Department of Education and Training, and the excellent building that now houses the GRC, its very existence could have been in jeopardy. Since 2001 this situation has been rectified somewhat as funding levels have risen dramatically, thus ensuring that the GRC is now run in a professional and efficient manner. A direct result of the additional funding has been an increase to GRC staffing by the creation of senior managerial positions – Director, Finance Manager, Administration Coordinator, Communications Coordinator, Manager: Performance and Outreach and Manager: Rock Con. 2016 will see the further establishment of a new Curriculum Committee to oversee all program development at the GRC.
Our Sponsors and Partners
The Department of Education and Communities has been most supportive of the work of the GRC - indeed today the GRC is firmly entrenched within the curriculum stream of the department through its growing and overt interaction with regional DEC schools. This is an important shift because previously the GRC was attached to the Board of Adult and Community Education, a relationship not well matched with the aim of providing music education for all. Now, one of the GRC’s main aims is to help schools in the region to deliver the Key Learning Area of music. We are also very fortunate and grateful to have a growing number of community sponsors who support our scholarships and programs.
Today ... and Tomorrow ...
The GRC has a broad range of performing ensembles of various types, catering to students of all ages and adults. There are over 1200 students in music and other courses that are taught throughout the year. The GRC offers a range of Professional Development courses to regional teachers and is establishing a range of music education outreach programs using Video Conferencing Technology to make meaningful contact with our distant regional schools. Finally, the development of the GRC Rock School (known as “Rock Con”) has broadened the base of programs that we offer and engages with a wider range of community partners. It is obvious that the GRC has become a vibrant and important part of the cultural life of the region and continues to move forward with passion, vision and commitment.