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The Board is elected at the AGM, usually held in May each year. It meets every two months, taking ultimate responsibility for the direction of CMVic, developing and overseeing CMVic’s strategic plan.

Current members (October 2022 – October 2023)


Central Coordinators

  • General Manager: Craig Barrie
  • Program Manager, Nicki Johnson
  • Local Catalyst (Mildura, Sunraysia, Mallee): Kylie Livingston
  • Local Catalyst (Outer Western Melbourne): Carla Bruce-Lee
  • Finance Co-ordinator: John Howard

Project Managers

  • For the Future Eco Arts Project: Laura Brearley
  • Local Catalyst Project (Outer Western Melbourne): Jane York

In addition to these paid part time contractors, the work of the organisation is supported by valued workshop facilitators and around fifty dedicated volunteers, working from our office and from home across the state.

Regional Activists

Below are some of the wonderful volunteers and former staff who champion the cause of community music in their regions.

  • Aaron Silver
  • Barb McFarlane
  • Belinda McCardle
  • Brian Strating
  • Bruce Watson
  • Carol Kunert
  • Di Mackrell
  • James Rigby
  • Jane Coker
  • Jane Thompson
  • Jenny Candy
  • Lyndal Chambers
  • Polly Christie
  • Sue Kirkpatrick

Brief Bios

Bridget Roberts (Chair of the Board)

The first CMVic-related events to capture Bridget’s imagination were the 2008 singing leaders’ workshop at Wilson’s Promontory and an evening singing in the State Library dome reading room. Then there was joining Havana Palava street band in 2012.

In 2007 she helped evaluate the project Victoria Sings. She guided volunteers through collecting stories from participants about the changes they had experienced as a result of Victoria Sings and wrote the evaluation report with Jane Coker. Subsequently she designed the evaluation of the Victoria Makes Music program.

Bridget joined the CMVic Board in 2014, bringing up to date evaluation expertise honed as a senior consultant with Clear Horizon Consulting and a depth of professional experience in the community and health sectors. Her other contributions to CMVic build on practical experience as a physical and music performer with the Women’s Circus (from 1993, including three years as a community board member) and the collectively-run Performing Older Women’s Circus (since 1995).

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Bruce Watson 

Bruce has been on the Board of CMVic since 2011. He is best known as a songwriter and performer. He has picked up a swag of songwriting awards and had many of his songs recorded by others, including Eric Bogle, Joe Dolce and a number of international artists. The Boite describes him as “a wordsmith, a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns with lots of stories he tells with passion and integrity.” 

Bruce’s music is inclusive. Choruses and opportunities for joining in are a hallmark of his performances and he likes nothing better than getting a room full of people singing together with him. 

While self-taught as a musician and writer, Bruce loves sharing his own learnings with others in workshops on songwriting, performing and the ukulele. He has also run a range of ukulele groups. When he’s not on stage at a music festival, you may well see him scraping his fiddle, strumming his uke or singing along at a session.

Bruce also has decades of experience as a public servant, running multi-million dollar programs, managing and conducting evaluations, and developing public policy.

Other affiliations: Member, Australian Performing Rights Association; Member, Australasian Evaluation Association; Member, Folk Alliance Australia

Bruce's website:


Bruce's blog:

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Craig Barrie

Craig combines 20 year's experience in Higher Education management with a dedication to fostering belonging, connection and joy through music. When not playing homegrown indie-folk with Nicki Johnson in All the Way Home, he sings with numerous choirs and ensembles, including early music madrigal group Tierce de Picardie, and The Junkman's Choir. Craig accompanies Nicki in a number of choirs around Melbourne and co-runs workshops on ukulele, group singing, songwriting, etc. As Chair of the Turramurra Folk Music Bush Camp Organising Committee and as a technical and event producer for a number of community events and festivals, he delights in supporting the marvellous talents of Victoria's music community.

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Dean Merlino

Dean Merlino is a musician who has worked across a large range of genres including classical music, punk rock and community practice.  He has performed across Australia and made several recordings.  He currently collaborates with New Zealand visual artist Emma Febvre-Richards and their performance pieces have been presented around the world.  He is a member of Drawing Open, a global trans-disciplinary drawing research collaboration.

Dean was coordinator of the Community Cultural Development Graduate Program at the University of Melbourne for ten years.  He lectures and consults on community engaged arts practices both nationally and globally, and has published extensively in this area.  

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John Howard

John has been a member of CMVic’s Board of Management since 2007. He is currently CMVic’s Administration Coordinator.

John was brought up singing with his large family. He studied classical singing in the early 90s, and sang with the state opera chorus and solo with smaller companies. John was a sessional teacher of voice in the performance studies course at Victoria University for 15 years and irregularly at the VCA. He has participated in and led a range of a cappella singing groups. He teaches voice work and singing to all ages from primary school children through to senior citizens. John took up the trumpet to be able to take part in StreetSounds, and has joined the Sunshine Street Band.

John is director of the Body Voice Centre in Footscray, which he established in 1994 with Helen Sharp.  He is a Middendorf Breathwork practitioner and completed a PhD, “Breathing embodiment: a study of Middendorf breathwork” in 2008. 

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Kerry Clarke

Kerry is a community choir and singing leader with a passion for getting everyone singing together. She has been leading community choirs and singing groups for over 10 years and currently runs two groups. A hundred years ago she graduated from Melbourne State College with a Bachelor of Education in Music and Drama. Kerry believes the joy and power of singing and playing music together cannot be overrated. She is a strong advocate for participatory music in community and community driven music! Kerry lives in the bush on the northern edge of Melbourne with lots of wildlife.

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Libby Price

Libby moved to the Dandenong Ranges in 2006, where she didn’t know anyone. She felt the need to reach out and make a new community of friends and thought that joining a local singing group might be a good place to start. With the help of Community Music Victoria, she found a wonderful local choir, VoKallista, which helped her to make connections and friendships in the community. Before she quite knew how it happened, she had attended a Community Singing Leadership Skills Workshop, and found herself standing in front as assistant director of VoKallista Community Choir. She is now passionate about involving people in community music making, and attends every event and workshop possible, both as a facilitator and participant.

Libby’s professional background is in Speech Pathology, specialising in technology to support people who have physical disabilities and communication impairment. This has led her to some interesting musical collaborations with “Attitude,” an arts engagement programme for disabled artists living in the Dandenong Ranges.

In 2014 she coordinated “Disco with Attitude” and “Create with Attitude” programme, assisting participants to explore music, dance and music creation using electronic musical instruments. In addition to community collaborations, she is currently working for Technical Solutions Australia as a technology advisor for people with disabilities. Libby joined the board in of Community Music Victoria in May 2014 because she strongly supports the organisation’s purpose & beliefs: that everyone has the need, right and capacity to make music, and that our communities are stronger when we “play" together.

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Margaret Crichton

Margaret Crichton has been leading choirs since being introduced to the CMVic model in 2004. She has been involved in music making for many years, performing solo and with bands in genres such as folk and pop, as well as occasionally teaching harp and guitar.

One of the other strings to her bow is presenting fun and educational shows in kindergartens. Currently leading two choirs in Melbourne she enjoys arranging all manner of songs in two and three part harmony. A particular interest is in presenting a challenging arrangement to singers of with little or no choral experience and helping them achieve it. 

Margaret plays harp, guitar and dabbles in other instruments, is a member of Delia's Friends, an English Country Dance band and an occasional member of Harpers Bizarre. 2013 saw her take up the challenge of the Regional Activist Support Team Co-ordinator and Mentorship Co-ordinator positions with Community Music Victoria.

Qualifications & affiliations:  B.A. Dip Ed; Leader of the 2014 festival choir at Newstead Live!; President of Bennettswood Neighbourhood House

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 Matt Phillips

Matt is currently CMVic Treasurer, having been actively involved as a volunteer and member of CMVic’s Board of Management since 2017

Matt taught himself the guitar at nine by watching how his primary school teachers played. He later taught himself the piano too. He was introduced to song through the ABC schools 'Singing and Listening' programme, and it ignited his passion for community based music. He later undertook voice lessons with Victorian-based opera singers Margaret Haggart and Roger Howell, before joining Melbourne Opera as a regular chorus member. A qualified accountant, Matt is currently based in London but remains an active and passionate member of CMVic. Matt is a trustee of the Tait Memorial Trust in London, which helps young Australian and New Zealand artists transition their careers to the UK and Europe

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 Nicki Johnson

Nicki Johnson makes music: as a singer, as a song leader, as a creator and collaborator, and believes that participation in music-making is a powerful force for healing and change. Nicki has led groups of culturally and linguistically diverse singers; designed and delivered singing projects to connect and support parents and babies; and facilitated singing and songwriting programs with vulnerable young folk. In her role at Community Music Victoria Nicki is responsible for the design of such programs, collaborating with CMVic’s Regional Catalysts, music group leaders and local communities in their implementation.

Nicki’s great passion is in sharing music with a focus on inclusion, social justice and climate activism, and currently leads a health centre choir in Banyule, a With One Voice inclusive choir in Kingston, and fun ukulele jams in every spare moment.

As performing and teaching artist with Songrise quartet, Nicki sings the lowest notes and can thump out a pretty funky body percussion routine when required. With partner Craig Barrie, Nicki is one songwriting-ukulele-playing-mouth-trumpeting half of contemporary folk duo All the Way Home.

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Oliver Hinton

From 2013 to 2022 Oliver was CMVic Coordinator, and a non-voting ex-officio member of the Board. In June of 2022 he retired from this position and became a full Board member in October 2022.

For most of his life Oliver was a full-time university Professor and electronic engineer, publishing extensively in high impact peer reviewed journals. He was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK from 2005 to 2011, managing a faculty of over 1000 staff and a budget of over £100m. He retired from academia in 2012 when he moved to Melbourne with his partner Jess. He has many years experience in management, governance, finance, strategy and research.

Oliver has had three serious romances with music making during his life. As a young teenager he became proficient with classical piano and played percussion kit in amateur musicals; in his 40's he became an obsessive founder member of the Tenth Avenue Band, a busy street band based in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, playing first accordion and then baritone sax; and then in Melbourne he became Co-ordinator for CMVic, plays baritone sax in the street band 'Havana Palava', accordion in a gypsy band, and bass uke in the Ukalypts ukulele band.


Qualifications: BSc(Eng), PhD, FIEE, CEng

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 Vanessa Chapple

Vanessa is a new member of the CMVic board from 2020.

Vanessa played piano and flute as a child and her granny was a classical piano child prodigy! As a performing arts director she has a passion for community projects and creating opportunities for connection through the arts. She brings a wealth of experience in designing programs and events which celebrate diversity, inclusivity and connection to place. One of her favourite projects was as Director of Community performances for Play me I’m Yours (pianos in public places) at Arts Centre Melbourne. Vanessa’s musical adventures over the years include playing with Havana Palava, Vardos, JuJu, 10 years as musician with Melbourne Playback Theatre and attending the much loved music camps TurraMurra and RosesGap/Charnwood. At present she is enjoying adventuring into experimental voice improvisation which is inspired by her training in somatic practices. Vanessa collaborates upon sound concepts for many theatre shows, has directed Coco’s Lunch children’s shows and works with community choirs (The Trolls, Living Out Loud, Resonance) choreographing performances and teaching stage presence skills. Vanessa is an experienced educator and dedicated advocate of the arts. She loves to take her collection of song books to as many campfires as possible for a ukulele sing a long!