After nine years working with not-for-profit organisation Music SA, Anne Wiberg is stepping down as board chair, while Kim Roberts is leaving the general manager role after less than two years in the job.
‘End of an era’: Industry heavyweights depart Music SA
There has been a shakeup of leadership at Music SA, as board chair Anne Wiberg and general manager Kim Roberts both announce their resignation from the not-for-profit organisation.
Anne, who is also artistic director of live music venue Light Adelaide, has been chair of the Music SA board since 2013.
She said in a press release, “It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new exciting one”.
“I took on the role of Music SA’s Chair nine years ago with the ambition of making positive changes and raising the profile of Music SA, both locally and nationally,” she said. “I have always believed in its importance to the South Australian contemporary music industry and knew it had the potential to be an industry leader in the state, and I wanted to be a part of that journey.”
Career highlights for Anne include Umbrella Festival and the inaugural SAM Awards, “which are now both vital annual celebrations of our local music talent,” she says.
Anne is still deeply involved in South Australia’s arts sector, working as associate producer with the Adelaide Festival, event producer at the AIR Awards, and programming director at the Ruby Awards.
Kim assumed the role of general manager at Music SA early in the pandemic, starting in June 2020. She has stepped away from the organisation to continue postgraduate studies.
“It was obviously a difficult decision [to leave] because I very much loved Music SA,” she tells CityMag.
“I just had the opportunity over the break to reflect on what I’d like to do moving forward, and what’s best for my family, and study has always been something that I’ve wanted to focus on and return to.”
Looking back over the past two years, she says she’s “proud” with what she’s achieved in the role.
“It’s been really challenging for the industry as a whole,” she says, “but I am just so proud and grateful that we’ve been able to steadfastly maintain all of our programs and services, and particularly things like running Umbrella last year and consistently hosting the SAMs.”
A recruitment process will commence next week to find a new general manager.
Kim’s resignation comes less than three months after she told CityMag she wanted clarity from the State Government on how they planned to help the music industry recover from crippling coronavirus restrictions.
On behalf of Music SA, Kim orchestrated behind-the-scenes meetings the State Government’s Music Development Office to advocate for music businesses straining under the weight of COVID. She says these conversations will continue with new management.
“As published in one of your stories recently, as well, the MDO has been conducting an industry health check. We’ve been talking with the MDO about that health check,” she says.
“At the end of last year, we also met with Minister [for Creative Industries, David] Pisoni. And there was some really positive discussions in that meeting, which will be picked up on.”
Anne and Kim’s resignation is the latest in a string of employees to leave the organisation within the last year.
Little Acorn Music founder, Sian Walden; PAK Music founder, Jessi Tilbrook; and Wing Defence singer Sky Walter have all recently quit roles at Music SA.
Jessi tells CityMag in a statement she left Music SA because of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 and being hamstrung by limited funding.
“With limited funding available to the arts sector, I was often delivering a full-time load in a part-time capacity and having to work with really difficult budgets,” she explains.
“Add to this the constant state of uncertainty surrounding our industry throughout COVID and all the anxiety that comes with that, it just makes things unsustainable.
“Our industry is hurting deeply and I’m really sad to see so many in the community suffering, and to know that SA is continuing to lose many valued and skilled individuals, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
Sian, who left Music SA in May 2021, tells CityMag COVID-19 and funding restrictions also impacted her decision to leave.
“During my time there, I got to experience and work alongside some of the most passionate and great minds in the local scene,” she says via email.
“Unfortunately though, as Music SA is a non-government and not-for-profit organisation, made up of part-time staff, with a variety of stakeholders, there are many complexities. Therefore, I didn’t feel that remaining there would place me in the best position to support the industry (in the way that I felt was most effective for the issues at hand) during these continuing dark times.
“I know that the industry is calling out for guidance, advocacy and support, and I hope that we can find a solution soon to bringing everyone together to navigate safely through the remainder of the pandemic, as we’ve already seen a great loss of skills, talent and faith in respect for what music and the arts bring to the community.”
When CityMag asked Kim whether COVID-19 and limited funding similarly affected her decision to leave, she said the pandemic affected everyone, and increased funding for the arts would always be welcomed.
“Supporting our industry through snap lockdowns and COVID cancellations, especially for our prized Umbrella Festival program, has been very challenging for staff, all of whom work part-time,” she says.
“We ensure all our staff feel supported and valued but recognise that the pandemic has presented unique challenges for all arts organisations.”
Skye and Anne did not respond to CityMag’s questions regarding their departure.
But the change makes space for new blood, including John Glenn, who’s worked in the arts, government and not-for-profit sector for three decades, and is currently CEO of international theatrical production company GWB Entertainment. He will lead the voluntary board as chair.
Craig Lock, co-owner of music events company Five Four Entertainment and North Terrace live music venue Lion Arts Factory, will also join as a board member.