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Today marks the announcement from Music Victoria and Regional Arts Victoria of the new team who will lead the Regional Music Development Program.

Funded by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and delivered in partnership by Music Victoria and Regional Arts Victoria, the Regional Music Development (RMD) program will be focused on implementing music recovery projects across the State.

The pilot program brings together a team from three key areas of Victoria including Mallacoota, Shepparton and Castlemaine with a fourth team manager based near Heathcote. These Regional Music Coordinators will lead COVID-19 and post-bushfire recovery efforts in their community to address the needs of musicians, music professionals and music communities and is designed to create a long-lasting legacy by empowering regional music industry with the skills, networks and strategies they need to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and carry that increased capacity into the future.

Each of the local music workers will develop projects and initiatives to support local music networks and activity as well as act as brokers to establish connections with music representatives in other parts of the state, local governments, arts bodies and other relevant stakeholders.

“The Regional Music Industry Recovery Program is designed to support those working in the local music scene access the
skills, connections, and strategies they need to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”

“The Victorian Government is proud to back these industry professionals who have what it takes to support our regional artists, venues and music businesses to become stronger than ever.” – The Hon. Danny Pearson, Minister For Creative Industries.

“While international borders remain largely closed, it’s clear that supporting regional and domestic initiatives will be key to navigating our way through the current period. We’re thrilled to be able to support these regions in driving this development” – Dale Packard, General Manager – Music Victoria.

“This team brings together an impressive range of skills and experience. We know that providing opportunities for regional music communities to respond effectively to their current challenges requires a mix of on-the-ground networks and connections to the wider industry, and we’re confident this group has an excellent balance of both.” – Joe Toohey, CEO – Regional Arts Victoria

The pilot project has just kicked off and the project coordinators in each area are as follows:

Fionna Allan – Regional Music Coordinator, Castlemaine (Mount Alexander Shire Council)
Fionna Allan is a Creative Project Manager with a background in tour management, venue booking, television production, festival operations, community radio and kitchen discos, amongst many other things. Prior to moving to Castlemaine in 2018, Fionna was based in Wales for 12 years and spent many years touring the world as a tour manager and production
coordinator for a variety of international artists, as well as working for the BBC, various music festivals and venues, and government arts organisations. More recently, Fionna has worked managing community radio station 94.9 MAINfm and in bookings and production at the Theatre Royal Castlemaine. She is also on the board of Castlemaine Circus. A terrible musician herself, Fionna is passionate about supporting musicians and the creative industries, living in Central Victoria, road trips and playing records at her friends.

Ree Peric – Regional Music Coordinator, Shepparton (Greater Shepparton City Council)
Ree is a 19-year-old artist with roots deep within Fiji, Croatia and Uganda. An artist living and working on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta people. Born in Australia, she grew up in Uganda before moving back to Shepparton in late 2014. Ree works across various mediums including visual art, performance, song-writing and music production. She is passionate about working with her community and forming creative expressions through all types of music and art.

Katie Symes – Regional Music Coordinator, Mallacoota (East Gippsland Shire Council)
Katie is Mallacoota and District Bushfire Recovery Hub Co-Coordinator with Bushfire Recovery Victoria. Katie sees her role as walking alongside her community to help navigate the systems of support in their bushfire recovery journeys. Katie is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and has 20 + years experience in the not-for-profit, higher education, health,
music and cultural sectors as a producer, facilitator, communicator and manager delivering projects, large scale social change campaigns and events both in remote, regional and national locations and internationally. Katie’s years of experience in the music industry as a producer, artist and tour manager has seen her travel extensively to regional and remote locations, nationally and internationally working with numerous inspirational songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Katie is co-producer (a role she shares with Maurial Spearim) of international touring music project the
Homelands Collective bringing young and established First Nations singer-songwriters to connect songs across oceans through music mentoring workshops and live performance opportunities at festivals and gatherings around the world.

Jesse Nation– Regional Music Coordinator, Mallacoota (East Gippsland Shire Council)
Jesse has a passion for all things musical and is highly motivated to energise people in music performance and production. He is proud of his Aboriginal heritage and is keen to support inclusion and healing through story and song. He has been a long-time volunteer in regional communities providing musical entertainment to audiences across the State. Jesse is a self-confessed gear nerd with a home studio that has hosted many a jam session. He loves fixing all kinds of musical equipment and specialises in guitar repair. Jesse also brings with him over fifteen years of experience working with community as a Parks Victoria Ranger in Melbourne, Apollo Bay and Mallacoota. Drawn to Far East Gippsland through its unique spirit of place, he has made Mallacoota his home with his family. Jesse is committed to giving back to his community by supporting and empowering people through music.

Sarah DeBorre – Regional Music Project Manager, Mount Camel (City of Greater Bendigo)
Sarah brings over 20 years of involvement in the Victorian music community, combined with close to nine years of project management experience to her new role as Regional Music Program Manager. After four years of running Music Victoria’s Live Music Professionals program, which placed a heavy emphasis on regional participation, coupled with Sarah’s move to the Heathcote area in early 2020 and a new part-time role programming music at regional live music venue, The Shiraz Republic, Sarah is excited to lead this new project.

For more information please head to or contact Sarah DeBorre at

The Regional Development Program is funded by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.