Significant changes afoot at SOUNZ

Some significant leadership and governance changes are taking place at SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.

Executive Director Scilla Askew will depart her post at this national arts organisation in February 2010. Elizabeth Kerr will join the organisation as Chair of the Board of Trustees in December 2009, replacing previous Chair, Lloyd Williams, who will be stepping down after his three-year tenure.

After more than a decade as Executive Director, Ms Askew leaves SOUNZ in a strong position. Having recently brought the organisation through major changes which include the development of SOUNZ Online, a comprehensive web-based business system and digitisation project, she noted that, “My time here has been tremendously rewarding and I am confident that the organisation will continue to make a vital contribution to our cultural landscape. Now, for me, it is time for some new challenges!”.

During her time at SOUNZ, Ms Askew has helped to facilitate many projects and partnerships to support the promotion of music by New Zealand composers, including the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings, SOUNZwrite education guides for schools and the SOUNZ Community Commission. She played an important role in the purchase of Douglas Lilburn’s house which is New Zealand’s only official residence available to selected composers and in 2004 her work was recognised by the Composers Association of New Zealand when she was awarded the KBB Citation for Services to NZ Music.

Incoming Chair Elizabeth Kerr says she wants to pay tribute to the leadership team of Ms Askew and outgoing Chair Lloyd Williams, who have achieved “some magnificent work” over recent years. “The launch of SOUNZ Online and the very many initiatives that have been launched over the last decade have significantly lifted the profile of New Zealand composers internationally.”

A highly respected arts manager herself, Ms Kerr has had a long career in music and the arts as teacher, lecturer, arts manager and board member. Currently Manager of the New Zealand String Quartet Trust, Ms Kerr has previously been Manager of Music programmes at the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand, Manager of Concert FM, Chief Executive of Relationship Services, Chief Executive of NZ Historic Places Trust and Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand from 2000 till 2006.

She has served on the boards of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet Trust, the Antarctic Heritage Council and the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), and is currently on the boards of the Douglas Lilburn Studio Trust and the Vector Wellington Orchestra. Ms Kerr has also worked as a commentator in print and broadcast media, including six years as “Concert” columnist for the NZ Listener.

Of her new role as Chair of SOUNZ, Ms Kerr says, “New Zealand has many wonderful composers and it’s important that their voices continue to be heard nationally and internationally. SOUNZ is promoting their work very successfully and I’m honoured to be able to return to a role in an organisation doing such significant work so well.”

Applications for the position of Executive Director are open from 30 October at