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Traditional Australian Music & Dance Committee - Proposal


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Traditional Australian Music & Dance Committee - Proposal


When the Bush Dance Group was formed, it was envisaged that the society's end of month bush dances would assist the group's dances, as well as the society, by delivering a crowd of keen bush dancers in peak condition and hot to trot for the Bush Dance Group dance the following week.

The purpose of this proposal is to deliver on that vision, by establishing a committee that is focused on running and promoting end of month bush dances. The proposal is focused only on necessary organisational change, and is in no way a criticism of existing committee members. It is the system that needs improvement, to allow committee members to deliver on the vision.

The society used to run big public bush dances on the last Saturday of the month. Now it runs 'dances'. The public will respond to simple messages like 'Bush dances on the first and last Saturday of the month'. They don't like surprises - whatever we call it, if they are expecting a bush dance many will not come back if we spring something else on them.

The main thing that matters is the people on the committee that is promoting and running bush dances. The committee needs to consist of people who will stand up and be counted and work openly and publicly for the cause of promoting frequent big public bush dances to live music. Such people will join a focused action committee.


That the society establish a committee to be known as the Traditional Australian Music and Dance Committee (TAMDC) to promote and run bush dancing activities including end of month bush dances, the Colonial Ball, and Dancing in the Park.


The society has sub-committees to run its various dance activities including Irish, Contra and the Bush Dance Group. There is also a dance sub-committee attended by representatives from many of the above groups.

There is no committee that is staffed and delegated to promote and run end of month bush dances. Currently it appears that the coordinating sub-committee is also expected to run the end of month bush dances. This wearing of two hats is counter to best practice and a fatal flaw if the sub-committee is intended to be an unbiased coordinator. It is contrary to the natural justice principals that apply to incorporated bodies under the act - we are entitled to unbiased coordinating committees.

More importantly, this working arrangement has not achieved big public bush dances and it is now time to find a different arrangement that will. We need end-of-month bush dances more than we need co-ordination between groups. Not to mention the Canberra region traditional Australian dance bands that are currently not getting the opportunities that end-of-month bush dances should deliver.

Clearly it is the responsibility of all groups to consult with other related event organisers, both inside and outside the MFS, as they schedule their activities.

My vision is for big public bush dances run frequently in big public venues. If newer members of the society care to look back to the Treasurer's and dance committee reports of ten or so years ago, they will find that MFS ran three regular dances a month, the first Saturdays being mainly for members, and two big public bush dances on the second and last Saturdays. As a result we made many thousands of dollars per year from the public bush dances and membership was up as a result of members of the public joining the society. I recommend that members research the Treasurer's reports and add up the dance components to get a bottom line. They may be surprised at the results that can be and were achieved.

When the dance committee was successful it was because it was delegated and empowered to promote bush dancing without unnecessary interference and divisive second-guessing. This management style extended to individual members of the dance committee who were in turn delegated and empowered with no unnecessary interference if they were doing their job. It worked well and is the preferred management style of successful organisations.

The dance committee reported its activities to the main committee, and indeed liaison to the main committee was an excellent role for new dance committee members. The main committee had the ability to interfere in the decisions of the dance committee should it become necessary, but like all good managers they resisted the temptation to meddle where it was not necessary. The main committee has to show due diligence in monitoring all activities of the society, but direct interference is a last resort and tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the people who have the delegation. Is it not far better to make the goals, vision and legal framework clear, and ask a few judicious questions, but let the managers manage?

To put it another way, we all need to avoid what is sometimes called "Micromanagement" ( When faced with this problem at work the only solution may be to exit gracefully as soon as possible. In a voluntary organisation, where the only reward is results, it is our duty to stand up for the rights of a delegated committee to make and act on decisions in its own area of expertise.

This motion is a response to my perception that the society can improve its performance on the end of month bush dances, and is not meant to be a criticism of anyone. On the contrary, despite various differences of opinion around organisational style and working arrangements, I respect and value the contributions and plain hard work and sustained commitment of all committee members and volunteers. We may see things differently but we share the same goals for the society.

Division of responsibility, delegation and empowerment is in no way going to cause an uncoordinated or fragmented society, in fact quite the opposite is true. A powerful committee promoting and running bush dances is not a threat to the main committee; it is something the main committee can be proud of and can support and encourage. Effective management is about exercising due diligence and confident oversight, and obtaining results through people.


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