CASM says thank you
How do you thank a person who has given you a major donation?
The University's Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) did it in the way they know best - by throwing a barbecue and concert.
The event, held recently on the lawns outside the CASM studios in Adelaide, was held in honour of local business identity Maureen Ritchie.
Ms Ritchie, a property investor, is well known for her generosity towards the arts. CASM has become one of the latest arts-based programs she has chosen to support, in part thanks to the inspiration of former CASM student David Page, who performed his one-man autobiographical show, Page 8, at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival last year.
"As David's story shows, the programs run by CASM can be a life-changing experience. It's important for young people and emerging artists to be given the opportunity to develop their talent, and that's exactly what CASM enables them to do," Ms Ritchie said.
"When I first looked into CASM, it seemed straight away that it was a very good program. The centre's dealings with remote communities and the exchange of culture and knowledge was something that appealed to me personally," she said.
"The music aspect of it is also important - I like the idea of indigenous music and culture being incorporated into a university setting. University should be an attraction to Aboriginal people to come to, so I like the idea of helping to promote that."
Ms Ritchie's gift to the University will help CASM to boost its outreach program into rural and remote communities. CASM has been conducting workshops and performances in remote South Australian communities for many years, but these have always been on an ad hoc basis as funding allowed.
"We are so grateful to Maureen for her support. It will enable CASM to build on prior relationships within the community and to build new partnerships to create a sustainable program of activities," said CASM's Academic Programs Coordinator, Jenny Newsome.
"It simply would not be possible for CASM to develop and sustain these programs without this kind of support.
"A really important aspect of her support is that it will broaden opportunities for our students to participate in outreach, to deliver community-based education programs, and to build on their performance experience," she said.
Ms Ritchie, who has been involved in philanthropy for the past nine years, said it was important to her to "reinvest in the country I live in".
"In my opinion, funding the arts is not just something that is a predominantly government responsibility," she said.
"Culture is a very important part of who we are. Art and music are fundamental to our culture. I love Australian culture, and I want to do what I can to help its development.
"The ongoing dialogue with CASM was something that appealed to me. CASM is very much like a family, they have a big family feel to them. There's often a lot of satisfaction in seeing the outcomes, and for this project I'm sure I will definitely see and enjoy the outcomes."
CASM's thankyou celebration for Ms Ritchie included performances by the CASM choir Keriba Wakai, the band and dancers. Students and staff alike joined to thank Ms Ritchie for her generosity.
Story by David Ellis