MEET: Sarah Deborre of Music Victoria

Melbourne, Music, Victoria -

MEET: Sarah Deborre of Music Victoria

From one of Melbourne's most respected community radio stations, PBS to Music Victoria itself. Sarah Deborre is glowing in ambition, spirit and finesse, qualities acquired throughout her hugely successful career stretched over two decades in the Australian Music Industry. Someone get this woman a drink...

In a world of guest lists, labels, late-night damage control, hangovers, elaborate riders, backstage passes and more, it’s easy to get lost in the chaotic mob that is, the music industry. Yet Sarah is grounded and focused as she wraps up the first round of Cultivate, a brand new initiative debuting in Melbourne earlier this year. Aimed at training, mentoring, supporting and empowering women in the Victorian music industry, Cultivate looks at the bigger picture. Taking mid-career women and teaming them up with female CEOs, senior managers and experienced mentors (the big dogs), Cultivate provides participants with the knowledge and skills needed today, to be kick-ass leaders of tomorrow.

While there’s a ton of women who work in the music industry, there are very few women calling the shots in the workplace.

“It’s just leadership roles which are dominated by men. I guess for me, I’d like to encourage women to continue wanting to work in this industry. To call out bullshit when they see it and to support each other and not work against each other...

...One of the aims of Cultivate is to empower female leaders in the industry and provide them with coaching to support and help nurture them in their leadership journey so they can go on to continue supporting other women on their journeys.”

Calling music industry superstars from all corners of the state, Sarah pulled together a fierce list of participants and mentors for the pilot program. Dallas Frasca, Director of A Hitch to the Sticks festival (and insane muso) teamed up with Amanda Walker, co-founder of vegan go-to, Lord of the Fries. Kate Duncan, CEO of youth music organisation, The Push Inc. was mentored by Sarah Davies of Philanthropy Australia. Barely Dressed Records’ co-founder Katie Besgrove teamed up with Mia Klitasas, young entrepreneur and Moxie Products co-founder. Plus stacks more.

“All of our mentors have amazing real-life experience and are powerful and influential leaders who have been able to support and empower their mentees throughout this journey.”

While Victoria may have the most celebrated, vibrant and dynamic music scene in the country, it’s still highly underrepresented by women, despite the talented men and women that are equally keeping it alive. From festival lineups and radio play to major award ceremonies and “power lists,” men are still dominating women in the music industry, by a landslide.

"From Music Victoria’s report, Women in the Victorian Contemporary Music Industry: “The ‘just a girl’ mentality is often reinforced by the media with women commonly referred to as female musicians rather than simply musicians. As Gloria Steinem observed 'whoever has power takes over the noun – and the norm – while the less powerful get an adjective'."

In the 2019 triple j Hottest 100 - the largest music poll in the country - male artists outweighed female artists by whopping 63%. And, if you look at radio play from the previous year, it's not hard to see why.

 “When you look at the number of women represented on industry boards, on festival line-ups, on the line-ups at music venues etc, you start seeing the inequality and it’s something you can’t ever un-see”

It’s not all bad news though, the music industry is finding its feet faster than loads of other industries, and the conversation is only building momentum for a quicker change.

To be honest I feel lucky to work in an industry where inclusion and diversity across all areas is something that is becoming more accepted, widely discussed and implemented. Yes, in some cases we have a long way to go, but I’m proud to work for an organisation that is leading the charge.”

With the first Cultivate wrapped up for the year, Sarah will now begin work on Live Professionals - a VIC-based program focused on small-to-medium live music businesses, providing workshops and coaching to help them thrive. 
Each applicant receives training, tailored to their needs, helping build their live music business and thus, live music in Victoria. Just another cracking program this boss lady in running, kicking off again in July.

So who is someone that keeps Sarah Deborre inspired and pushing for more?

“Hands down, right now, it’s Dallas Frasca. Dallas has been a participant in this year’s Cultivate program and while I kind of knew her before the program commenced I only truly started to get to know her over the course of the last few months. What a dynamic, powerhouse of a woman! She’s one of those rare people who have an infectiously positive vibe and I admire her ability to be raw, vulnerable, open and honest. She’s a beautiful person, with so many amazing ideas, drive, passion and inspiration.”

Well Sarah, we take our collective hats off to you. Now when you’re ready, let’s get cracking on NSW!

Read more on Cultivate.

Imagery via Music Victoria

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