Melbourne Prize For Music 2019: Celebrating The Endeavours Of Victorian Creatives

  • Written by 
  • Wednesday, 26 June 2019 13:05
Published in Music  
L-R: Simon Warrender, Helen Garner (Melbourne Prize for Literature winner), and Christos Tsiolkas (Best Writing Award winner). L-R: Simon Warrender, Helen Garner (Melbourne Prize for Literature winner), and Christos Tsiolkas (Best Writing Award winner). Image © Leisa Hunt Photography

This year, the long-running Melbourne Prize Series completes its current three-year cycle with the presentation of the Melbourne Prize For Music.


Last presented in 2016, the Melbourne Prize For Music is about recognising and rewarding the contributions of a Victorian musician or band.

It is the third and final award in the Melbourne Prize Series cycle, which rotates between Urban Sculpture, Literature and Music. “In music we look at all genres of music, performers and composers,” Founding Executive Director of the Melbourne Prize Trust, Simon Warrender explains.

“What we're really doing is recognising and rewarding talent full-stop. I see no boundaries, I think talent is talent.”

With a prize pool totalling over $100,000, the Melbourne Prize For Music is open to all Victorian musical artists, bands and ensembles, no matter what stage of their career they are currently in. “We're giving a prize to somebody who is in their career, maybe the beginning or the middle,” Simon says.

“We do an award for body of work, which may be for somebody towards the latter part of their career, because I think to demonstrate the importance of recognising and rewarding contribution is vital.

“It doesn't matter whatever end of their career an artist is at; they have made a contribution. Some are beginning that contribution, some are in the middle, some have made it and have given the opportunity for the emerging [artists] to come through.”

The Melbourne Prize For Music includes a suite of awards, with the main prize in the realm of $60,000 for the winner to spend as they please, within reason. “What we reinforce is that it's a prize, it's not a grant,” Simon says.

“[The winners] don't have to come back to us in 12 months and give us a penny-by-penny expenditure. We're giving it to people we feel are responsible, talented artists, and they say in their entry what they're going to do with it.”

For some, that might be simply paying off bills so they can focus on their creative endeavours. “Frankly, even if it gives the artist the ability to buy them 12 or 18 months of time to purely devote to their music, what better gift than that?

“There's various prizes within the suite that we offer but that's the ultimate and if someone wants to do something as simple as pay their mortgage, which gives them the ability to write music for 12 months, that's fine. A luxury holiday around France may not be such a good idea, but who knows,” he adds with a laughs.

Now in its fifth cycle, the Melbourne Prize Series is run by the Melbourne Prize Trust, which Simon established in 2004 with three key objectives: recognise and reward excellence and talent; inspire creative development; and, enrich public life.

“Some people get their opportunities through grants, some people get it through gifts from family; we happen to run a prize, and what we hope is that wining the prize also gives the winners in whatever category a profile as well. We reward and we recognise.”

Entries for the Melbourne Prize For Music & Awards 2019 close 22 July. Click here for more information.

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