Case study: A backstreet classical music venue supporting new immigrants

Piano Project partnered with the Victorian Government's Pick My Project initiative to fund piano lessons for migrant children.

Project partner: Piano Project
Region: Northern Metro 
Budget: $189,600.00
Votes: 423 

Georgina Imberger runs Piano Project, a Melbourne-based charity which funds piano lessons for migrant children.

'We were holding classical recitals in offbeat locations as part of the charity, and they were great fun,' she says.

It was the success of these recitals that sparked the idea for Tempo Rubato, a classical music venue in the backstreets of Brunswick. 

After securing the warehouse shell and completing some rudimentary works, Georgina turned to Pick My Project.

'It came along at exactly the right time. I loved the idea of not asking people for money, just saying we’d love for you to vote for us if you think it’s something you’d enjoy having in the community.'

The voting process marked the beginning of Tempo Rubato's dedicated music community. After their application success and the not-for-profit venue's opening just shy of a year ago, it has only continued to grow. This is something that Georgina is particularly proud of. 

'It’s very much been about the community. I had my own hope for how people would enjoy this kind of space, and the experience of creating this has exceeded those expectations... it all comes back to the combination of music and community and what those things can mean.'

The 150-person venue has been hosting a free concert every Friday and at least two more ticketed events per week. In its short life Tempo has seen musicians from all over the world - Amsterdam, London, New York - eager to play on the 102-key Stuart & Sons concert grand piano. But mostly the venue hosts a diverse range of local musicians, with a soft spot for new compositions and work by female composers – and anything else that they think their audience will enjoy.  

Since having to temporarily close in March due to Coronavirus social distancing regulations, it’s become clear how much the space means to the locals. 

'A number of people have spontaneously contacted us over recent months on social media just to say how much they love the space and they hope we’re doing ok,' Georgina says. 

After receiving such messages of solidarity from the local community, and aware of the number of casual and hospitality workers in the area, the Tempo team wanted to find a way to give back.

'We thought we would just try to use our platform and existing community to try and help,' says Georgina.

The venue's manager was able to focus her newly available time to set up a GoFundMe page for the Tempo Rubato Food Drive. With the goal of keeping it local, they partnered with the Inner North Community Foundation to fund Emergency Relief Vouchers for local families to access essential items from local traders.  

'We try and make sure that it goes to an efficient end, that it gets to the people who need it in a way that is in line with our general spirit and the local community too,' Georgina says. 

Pick My Project has always been about empowering Victorians to make their local community an even better place to live. Tempo Rubato's initiative to use the community they've built to give back to some of the people in need who supported their project in the beginning truly reflects this. 

Many other projects have realigned their functioning to support their community during the pandemic: 

Visit the Tempo Rubato website for more information about the Food Drive, and follow them on Facebook to hear when they're open again for drinks and live music.

Reviewed 24 March 2021

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